A man who lost everything in a house fire claims police could have been more compassionate after an emotional outburst at the scene left him in handcuffs.
A man who lost everything in a house fire claims police could have been more compassionate after an emotional outburst at the scene left him in handcuffs.

Cops treated fire victim 'like a mongrel animal'

A Townsville man claims he was treated like a "mongrel animal" when he was put in handcuffs and carted to the watch house after an emotional outburst as he watched his home burn down.

Aaron Blake, 48, said police showed little compassion at the scene of the Hermit Park house fire on Sunday night where he lost everything he owned, including his pets.

Mr Blake was on his way home when fire trucks rushed past in the direction of his Norris St property.

By the time he arrived, the fire had spread through the entire timber house.

House fire victim Aaron Blake, is now up on charges after allegedly obstructing an emergency worker. Picture: Alix Sweeney
House fire victim Aaron Blake, is now up on charges after allegedly obstructing an emergency worker. Picture: Alix Sweeney

Fire crews battled the huge blaze for about 30 minutes but the home couldn't be saved. Investigators believe the fire started from cooking left unattended on the stove.

The labourer, who lost his job as a result of COVID-19, lashed out at his housemate who was allegedly home at the time. The fire has been deemed non-suspicious.

He then allegedly got in the way of fire crews, and was charged with obstructing a person performing a function.

Mr Blake said his emotions got the better of him as he realised his belongings, including new appliances, were destroyed.

The charred remains of a Norris St home where Aaron Blake lost everything. Picture: Alix Sweeney
The charred remains of a Norris St home where Aaron Blake lost everything. Picture: Alix Sweeney

Mr Blake was arrested and taken to the Townsville watch house where he waited for hours while processing the loss of his home.

He said police could have shown more compassion.

"It was emotional watching the house go up in flames … I was in shock and treated like a mongrel animal," he said.

Mr Blake and his partner were living in a motel while waiting for permanent accommodation.

He had accessed his super fund to provide for them amid COVID-19 and was facing the possibility of having to dip into the money pot again.

Since the fire, he returned to the home to assess the damage and was overcome with grief.

House fire victim Aaron Blake, is now up on charges after allegedly obstructing an emergency worker. Picture: Alix Sweeney
House fire victim Aaron Blake, is now up on charges after allegedly obstructing an emergency worker. Picture: Alix Sweeney

"I was devastated. I just stood there in shock asking myself 'what do I do now'," he said.

Queensland Police Service did not wish to comment about the incident as it was before the courts, but said the public should let authorities do their job.

"Emergency situations are dynamic and dangerous and members of the public should always follow the directions provided by responding emergency crews to ensure the safety of everyone involved," the spokesman said.

If you'd like to help Mr Blake, please call the Bulletin for more information.

Mr Blake will face court in August.

Originally published as House fire victim locked up while home burned



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