'Fire engulfed the whole property within four minutes': Family recounts the night they lost their home

The dark night of June 6 is the one that the O'Brien and Lamb families will never forget.

Eight people were fast asleep in their home when Yijun Tang-O'Brien (68) heard a pop sound at 1am.

Soon after, she made the horrible discovery that the study room in their house was engulfed in fire.

She quickly woke up the other members of the family and they rushed out of their house in the nick of time.

A photo taken during Bernie O'Brien's birthday celebrations earlier this year. Photo: Supplied.

A photo taken during Bernie O'Brien's birthday celebrations earlier this year. Photo: Supplied.

Vanessa Lamb said that minutes after they rushed out of the house, fire engulfed the whole property within four minutes.

"I am glad Yijun made the discovery when she did. My father Bernie O'Brien has a hearing problem. When we realised that the house was on fire, we knocked on my father's door to get him out. The door was stuck but he was somehow able to unlock the back door and we were able to get him out," she said.

"Once the back door opened and the breeze entered the house, it took four minutes for the whole house to be engulfed in fire.

"We were glad that he got out on time even though he suffered from burns including on his hands and back. He also had a high level of cyanide due to smoke inhalation."


The family from lost everything to the fire and could only save their phones, cars, pet dog and cat and Vanessa's and Colin's wedding bands from the fire.

Their house in Wallaroo, near the NSW-ACT border, has created beautiful memories for the four generations of the family who have lived there since 83-year-old Bernie O'Brien purchased the property in 1969.

Named after his favourite horse 'Dibetal' they have fond memories of celebrations and get-togethers on occasions including Christmas and birthdays.

The fire not only took away their home but also precious memories in the form of family photos, videos and other memorabilia they had collected over the years.

"There were photos of my late mother that were also destroyed in the fire. That is something I will never be able to replace," Mrs Lamb said.

Her daughter Maddie added, "We lost our clothes, phones and literally everything else in that fire. The beautiful memories we have created are all that stays with us now."

"There was nothing we could have done. We got out of there as quickly as we could."

After the devastating fire, the family is trying to rebuild their life and a Gofundme page has been set up where one can donate.

This story Family recounts the night they escaped fire, lost their house first appeared on Yass Tribune.