A CLAYTON South house fire that is believed to have killed a mother and her two sons may have been deliberately lit.
Firefighters were called to the house in Main Road, Clayton South just before 1am today.
Head of the arson squad, Detective Senior Sergeant Jeff Maher, confirmed a 37-year-old woman and two boys aged five and 10 were occupants of the house, but would not say who exactly was in the house at the time.
The fire took 40 minutes to contain.
‘‘We have a number of deceased in the house but we’re trying to piece the jigsaw together,’’ Senior Sergeant Maher said.
‘‘We’re unsure of what exactly we’ve got at this point in time and the [disaster victim identification] process and the crime scene examination will take a while.’’
Senior Sergeant Maher said police were investigating the cause but refused to confirm whether the fire was suspicious.
‘‘We have to keep our minds open. I’m not going to jump to any conclusion but we have to see where it leads to.’’
The father of the children is believed to be on his way home to Australia from India, where the family came from.
Nearby resident Max Dunn said the scenes were chaotic this morning.
‘‘At about 1am I heard a lot of noise and the smell of smoke was very strong,’’ Mr Dunn said.
‘‘I had a look outside and the whole house was engulfed in a ball of flames.’’
Neighbours rushed to the scene and tried to forced their way into the house, even attempting to break the locked window shutters.
‘‘I saw people, and then police trying to bash the door down but they couldn’t get in,’’ Mr Dunn said.
‘‘The fire wasn’t stopping for anything — you could’ve had a hundred fire trucks and they wouldn’t have prevented it.’’
Family friends who refused to be named said the family was extremely friendly and involved in the local community.
‘‘The kids attended St Peter’s Primary School and often walked to school,’’ one woman said.
‘‘Most of their immediate family are back home in South India,’’ another friend said.
The family were also believed to have attended St Andrew’s Catholic church in Clayton and migrated to Australia after living in Canada, where the father worked as an IT consultant.