Press "Enter" to skip to content

Service farewells Qld housefire victims

Three generations of one family have been farewelled in an emotionally charged epitaph to Queensland’s worst house fire.


Sam Taufa, a brother, son and uncle to five of the 11 victims in the Slacks Creek house on August 24, told 2000 mourners that, as a child, comic book hero Superman was his idol.

But he said in reality it was his mother Fusi, who perished in the two-storey home south of Brisbane, who did extraordinary things.

“She couldn’t fly, but boy she could fly that shoe when we were out of line,” Mr Taufa said in one of the rare light moments during the four-hour service at Citepoint church, Mt Gravatt, on Saturday.

“We didn’t have much growing up, but what held us together was her smile.

“My father was the head of the family, but my mother was the backbone.”

Matriarch Fusi Taufa, Annamaria Taufa, 23, her daughters Lahaina, 7, and Kalahnie, 3, and 16-year-old niece Ardelle Lee were given a moving send-off at the Citepoint Uniting Church.

Earlier this week, Teukisia Lale and her children – Jerry, Paul, Lafoa’i, Sela and Richie, aged eight to 18 – were buried.

Their father Jeremiah Lale, one of three survivors of the fire on August 24, was among Saturday’s congregation.

Sam Taufa said the survivors and families of those killed were grateful for the amount of emotional and financial support they have received.

“I stand before you deeply humbled,” Mr Taufu said.

“I know the road ahead is long, but with your help the road can be shortened.

One of the most moving moments of the service was a plea for forgiveness from Ardelle’s father Vincent Lee, who had not seen his daughter in the month leading up to the fire.

“For a while I didn’t see Ardelle and my mum always asked me to ring her or get her,” Mr Lee said.

“What I am saying Ardelle is I regret everything, please forgive me.

“I wish I could turn back time.

“As a father it’s hard to say goodbye to your children.”

Standing alongside Mr Lee were three broken-hearted siblings.

In turn they all stepped up to the microphone to say goodbye to their sister while battling to hold back tears.

A song, which Annamarie wrote and recorded when she was in year 12, was played during the service.

All 11 who died were featured in a 10-minute slide show of the happiest moments in their lives under the banner `Tribute to our 11 angels’.

There was an hour-long tribute service which included speeches by assistant police commissioner Paul Wilson, Queensland Fire Service chief superintendent Peter Ryan and local councillors and Environment Minister Vicky Darling.

The families of the deceased have received messages of condolence from Governor-General Quentin Bryce, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, as well as Tongan and Samoan government officials and heads of state.