Grieving student honours late teacher who helped her to read

LATEST: Tears and tributes have flowed for a much-loved teacher suddenly taken in a tragic house fire.

Coolum State School Year 5 student Kaylah Jones laid flowers this afternoon at the Greenoaks Dr home home where learning support teacher Kylie Allen was fatally wounded by Sunday night's fire.

The flowers she left rested with other arrangements against a post just outside the line of police tape.

Flowers lay in front of the home where Coolum State School teacher Kylie Allen was fatally injured in a house fire.
Flowers lay in front of the home where Coolum State School teacher Kylie Allen was fatally injured in a house fire. Warren Lynam

Mrs Allen had helped Kaylah with her reading last year.

"She was really nice and she was really caring," Kaylah said.

She said students were told in the school hall by their principal this morning that Mrs Allen had not survived.

"Two people in my class started crying.

"She really helped me and it is really sad how she died.

Kaylah's mother Danielle Baker drove her daughter to the scene after school.

"I just felt that she was a little bit upset," Miss Allen said.

"She said she was a beautiful teacher and helped her get really good marks."

Queensland Fire and Rescue Service North Coast fire investigator Geoff Hunter said it appeared the fire had started in the main bedroom of the home.

"It has travelled from the bedroom down there hallway, where it was cut off," Mr Hunter said.

"It would have been quite an intense fire in the bedroom."

He said there was also fire damage to the lounge room and some bathroom areas.

"The second and third bedroom had smoke damage only."

Police forensics officers take samples from the scene of a fatal Coolum house fire.
Police forensics officers take samples from the scene of a fatal Coolum house fire. Warren Lynam

Queensland Police Service forensic officers collected samples for analysis.

Mr Hunter said the crews were still working to determine what caused the fire.

"We are looking at any cause possible."


THE sadness was evident of Alan Lawry's face shortly after he had learned the woman he rescued from a fire had not survived the night.

Mr Lawry sombrely recounted last night's brave efforts to save 44-year-old Coolum State School teacher Kylie Allen.

The school has issued a statement detailing the grief felt after learning of the passing of the much-loved learning support teacher.

Mr Lawry and his wife Robyn were watching a movie at their Greenoaks Dr home when they smelled smoke about 10.30pm.

"We checked our house out and it wasn't our house and I just walked outside because I thought some clowns had lit a wheelie bin or something," Mr Lawry said.

"I saw a bit of a haze over the neighbour's place and walked over and checked out around his house and found out that there was a fire in there."

He checked the exterior of the house and found the doors and windows were hot.

When he got around the back of the home he found a sliding door that was cold and unlocked.

"At that stage one of the neighbours had turned up and he gave us a bit of a hand."

Mr Lawry made his way through the door.

"There I found Kylie. She was only a metre (or) a metre-and-a-half away from the door.

"She had tried to get out and she was unconscious."

He dragged her out and put her into a recovery position.

"I then went in there for another look because I thought there might have been two others in there."

Mr Lawry was looking for Mrs Allen's husband and son, but police have confirmed they were not home at the time.

He said the fire took hold of the home very quickly after he arrived.

"The last time I was in there it started coming across the roof... it was time to get out.

"The smoke was very thick.

"You couldn't see.

"I was on the ground.

"I was sucking the air from the floor."

He and another woman as well as others performed CPR on Mrs Allen after she had been carried to nature strip in front of the property.

More neighbours had emerged from their homes by that time after hearing calls of "fire, fire".

They included Alan Smeeton.

"It just happened so quick," Mr Smeeton said.

"It just shocked me."

He praised a woman who was working on Mrs Allen before paramedics arrived.

"She was magic. She really did a great job."

Mr Lawry said he did not know Mrs Allen.

"We just waved as neighbours."

He was disappointed after learning this morning that his neighbour had died in hospital.

"I was hopeful last night.

"I was really hopeful that she would be right.

"It's a sad day."

He said he did not regard his actions as brave.

"I was never in any danger- I didn't feel I was in any danger anyway.

"I had a neighbour who said he was there to pull me out if something went wrong."

Mr Lawry was sad for the victim's family.

"They'll be lost."

Mr Lawry was treated for smoke inhalation after the incident.

It was not the first time Mr Lawry had been involved in a rescue, having previously received a Queen's Commendation for Brave Conduct.

He said that honour came after he rescued a woman from underneath a burning van in Taihape, New Zealand, in about 1984.

The van had been involved in a head-on crash with a motorcycle.

But the praise he received this morning did little to console him.

"It turns out we were a bit late."

Mr Lawry's 20-year-old son Joel Lawry also helped out after Mrs Allen had been pulled from the burning home.

He too was saddened after learning about her death.

But he was proud of his dad.

"He is a good man," Joel said.

Coolum State School principal Pat Cavanagh said Mrs Allen had been an integral part of the school's learning support program for the past nine years.

"Kylie was professional in all she did, generous in her time and sharing of knowledge, helpful to all her colleagues and above all dedicated to improving the learning opportunities of her students," Mr Cavanagh said.

"Kylie's work ethic and effort she put into her students was outstanding.

"This is a terrible tragedy for the Allen family, Coolum State School and the Coolum community.

"We are deeply saddened by the event.

"Our sympathy and thoughts are with the family and friends."

Coolum police officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Hardy Wirth said Mrs Lawry's family were aware of her passing.

Snr Sgt Wirth said a crime scene would remain around the home until police forensic officers and Queensland Fire and Rescue Service investigators had inspected the scene.

He said they would work to determine the cause of the fire.


NEIGHBOURS to a fatal Coolum house fire have detailed the brave lengths to which people went to save a 44-year-old woman.

Kristy McDonald said she and husband Daniel were alerted to the fire next door when a fellow Greenoaks Dr resident began banging on their front door.

Mrs McDonald said her husband and the man jumped a fence to the burning home and went inside while she called emergency services.

"I was just freaking out," Mrs McDonald said.

"I was trying to call the fire brigade but I was panicking because I knew he had gone in there."

Emergency services were called about 10.30pm Sunday.

Mrs McDonald said her husband emerged from the burning home to come get shoes on while the other man went to the back of the house.

He located the injured woman inside the hallway near the back and pulled her out.

Mrs McDonald then helped the man carry the woman to the front of the property.

She said the man then ran straight back in to see if there were any more people inside.

Mrs McDonald said she started trying to give the woman CPR before another neighbour with medical training took over.

"I could feel a very faint pulse."

She said she knew her neighbours as friendly people but did not know them particularly well.

"I think I'm still a little bit in shock. It's just a little bit surreal."

Her husband has gone to work today.

Police forensic officers have arrived at the scene.


A 44-year-old woman has died after she was critically injured in a house fire at Coolum Beach last night.

Neighbours on Greenoaks Drive called emergency services around 10.30pm.

One neighbour ran into the burning house and dragged the woman outside before starting first aid.

An ambulance transported her to Nambour General Hospital where she later died.

There was nobody else inside the house at the time and the house was severely damaged.

Police have the house under guard and Scientific and Scenes of Crimes Officers will investigate during daylight hours. 

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Topics:  coolum editors picks fatality house fire qas qfes qps

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