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A community has come together to support family members of the three siblings who died in a shed fire on the northern outskirts of Geelong last Sunday.
Wearing orange, blue, yellow and purple ribbons – the favourite colours of the children – residents showed up to a vigil in Corio to stand alongside Kane McGregor and Jasmine Beck, the heartbroken parents of the three children who perished.
Parents Jasmine Beck and Kane McGregor are consoled by well-wishers at a vigil near Geelong.Credit: Chris Hopkins
“They were very bubbly. Happy, very loving and caring and very sweet,” Beck told this masthead during the vigil, held at a reserve in Corio on Saturday night.
Saige, 3, and Ashlynn, 18 months were killed when the shed in the backyard of their Corio home caught fire on Sunday, Isaac, 4, suffered extensive burns and died in hospital on Wednesday.
Mavis, 6, was rushed to the Royal Children’s Hospital where she remained in a critical condition on Saturday.
“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy,” Beck said on Saturday, recalling the “nightmare” week they’d experienced.
Members of the Corio local community at a vigil in memory of the children who died in the fire.Credit: Chris Hopkins
Beck rushed to pull the children from the burning shed after smelling smoke from the backyard on Sunday morning. She suffered minor burns to her hands from the fire that claimed the lives of three of her children.
Family members cried and embraced one another on Saturday night, offering gifts of teddy bears, flowers and photos of the four children who neighbours described as inseparable.
Four teddy bears with the names of the three children who died and the sole survivor of a shed fire in Corio. Credit: Chris Hopkins
The children’s dad revealed Isaac had attempted to shield his siblings from the flames, when he spoke to the media outside a Melbourne hospital this week.
Beck said her son’s bravery did not come as a surprise as he had always tried to protect his siblings.
“He is a brave boy, who has always been a brave boy. [If] any of the kids got bullied he wanted to go sort it out even though he was four,” she said.
The 26-year-old said she had returned to the house for the second time on Sunday after maintaining a vigil beside her daughters’ hospital bed this week. The children’s grandparents had flown from her hometown in South Australia to also be by her side, she said.
Beck moved to Corio 10 years ago, where Mavis was enrolled at Northern Bay College and Isaac and Saige attended Happy Feet Early Learning Centre.
Mavis, 6, Saige, 3, Ashlynn, 18 months and Isaac, 5. Supplied
She said it looked like a very long road to recovery for her eldest daughter, who had suffered first-degree burns and damaged her esophagus.
“Honestly, I had a panic attack when I walked in my into my front gate,” she said.
“I had to do it. I have got to be here to support everyone and say thank you to everyone that has shown up and supported us in the time that we needed it.”
Less than a week after the fire, Beck said she had not had time to process the grief and had focused her energy on being there for her eldest daughter.
“We’re coping as best we can at the moment,” she said.
Loved ones released balloons during the vigil, while friends of the family spoke about the impact the fire has had on the community.
Organiser Tori Sanderson said she had held her children a little tighter than usual this week as the news hit home.
Sanderson said she hoped by bringing everyone together it would be an opportunity to support the family and each other.
“We’re a team. We’re an army. It’s to help everyone get through it, including the parents. This is not going to give them closure because nothing will ever give them closure, this is just to help the community to come together and grieve all together.”
Sanderson, a close friend of Beck, said parents had been having difficult conversations with their own children this week.
“My youngest went to daycare with Isaac and Saige so he was asking where they were,” she said.
“ It’s been really heartbreaking, we’re all just trying to keep it together.”
Victoria Police has determined the fire was not suspicious, and its exact cause will likely form part of an investigation undertaken by the coroner in coming weeks.
A Go Fund Me page has been set up for the family amid the outpouring of grief from members of the community. More than $67,000 has been raised to help pay for funeral and medical costs.
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