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Mum dies hours after family killed in Brisbane car fire

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

It’s believed Rowan Baxter filled a jerry can with fuel at a local service station, before dousing the car containing his wife and children, and setting it alight.

A mother has died just hours after her husband and three young children were killed in a car fire in Brisbane's east this morning.

Queensland police confirmed the 31-year-old woman "succumbed to her injuries at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital early this evening".

9News understands the family is Rowan and Hannah Baxter and their three children Laianah, Aaliyah and Trey.

It's believed Rowan Baxter, 42, filled a jerry can with fuel at a local service station, before dousing the car containing his wife and children, and setting it alight.

The children, two girls aged six and four along with a three-year-old boy, died in the car.

Witnesses reported Ms Baxter, 31, who was driving at the time, jumped from the car screaming "he's poured petrol on me".

She suffered significant burns and was taken to Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital where she later died.

Baxter died nearby from a self-inflicted stab wound.

Police say investigations surrounding the events which unfolded at the scene are continuing.

Emergency services were called to the distressing scene on Raven Street in Camp Hill, at 8.20am (AEST) to reports a white SUV was alight. They arrived to find the car fully engulfed with flames.

A Good Samaritan who had risked his own life to try and save the children, but found the flames were too intense, was also taken to hospital with burns to the face and hands.

Baxter was a former NRL player for the New Zealand Warriors in the mid-2000s, while Ms Baxter has won medals representing Queensland and Australia in trampoline sports.

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The couple, both fitness coaches, are understood to have separated late last year, and were trying to work out custody arrangements.

However, they were not involved in any proceedings in the Family Court or Federal Court.

Their gym, Intergr8 and CrossFit SMC in Capalaba, where they trained elite local athletes including ex Broncos Sam Thaiday and Matt Gillett, had recently closed down.

In recent months, Baxter had posted pictures and videos of his children to Facebook with captions saying "love you to the moon and back", "daddy loves you", and "I miss you all".

Five days ago his friend Joey Abraham wrote under a photo of Trey: "Chin up brother everything will work out just hang in there my bro alot of people care about you and the situation your facing. (sic)"

Family friend Brian Cavanagh told 9News Hannah had recently moved in with her parents Lloyd and Sue.

"(Lloyd) said 'Hannah is in the RBWH in a critical condition and they don't think she's going to make it'," Mr Cavanagh said.

"I can't work out why Hannah was in the car with (Baxter)."

He said the tragedy was "beyond comprehension".

A tribute of flowers and teddy bears has been growing at the scene across the day.

Neighbour heard explosion

Neighbour Murray Campbell said he heard a number of loud bangs this morning.

"I heard the initial explosion, and came running out," he told 9News.

"The vehicle was engulfed by flames and a lady was screaming.

"To me it sounded very much like a gas cylinder exploding.

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"[The car] was stationary initially and then after... it started rolling back across the road... and came to rest on the other side against the gutter."

Investigation underway

A major crime scene was established this morning with police cordoning off a large part of the street and several side streets.

The investigation is ongoing.

"At this stage, we will work to identify anyone who was known to our victims, and we'll be speaking to them. But as to nominating an offender or a suspect or those sorts of things, way too early to go into," Detective Inspector Mark Thompson said earlier today.

A map of Brisbane showing the location of the car on fire in Camp Hill

"How the fire actually occurred has not been ascertained at the moment so for us to call it a murder-suicide or a tragic accident, it's inappropriate at this stage.

"At this stage, there are other areas of interest to us. I anticipate that there will be another crime scene or two to be declared, but at this stage, we haven't declared another crime scene.

"I've seen some horrific scenes, this is up there with some of the best of them... it's a terrible scene."

He urged anyone who lives in the vicinity of Raven and Pride Streets in Camp Hill who has heard or been told anything in relation to the fire to contact police.

Queensland Ambulance spokesman Adrian Tong said first responders found the car alight and a number of people deceased.

"They quickly moved on to the people that needed treatment and that was given quickly and we transported two patients away from the scene, both to the Royal Brisbane Hospital, with burns," he said.

The woman had suffered "severe burns to a significant part of her body".

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He said emergency services would be offered counselling.

"I've been in the ambo service a long time and these things are always confronting, more so when there's children involved."

Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan described the fire as "horrific" in parliament this morning.

"Today is a very sad day," he said.

"The situation is at a very early stage and I am informed that police are investigating all of the circumstances surrounding this tragic set of events.

"Mr Speaker, my thoughts are with all those affected by this terrible tragedy," he added.

- with AAP

Readers seeking support can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyond blue on 1300 22 4636.

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.

*National Domestic Violence Service: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732). If you are in immediate danger call triple zero (000).

Source: 9News

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