Funeral for Brisbane blaze family

A fire inspector at the house fire in which 11 people died, including Jeremiah Lale's wife and five children. Photo / Courier Mail
A fire inspector at the house fire in which 11 people died, including Jeremiah Lale's wife and five children. Photo / Courier Mail

A man who lost his wife and five children to a house fire south of Brisbane has been consoled by a grief-stricken Pacific Islander community at their funeral.

Jeremiah Lale's wife Teukisia and five children - Jerry, Paul, Lafoa'i, Sela and Richie - died in the Slacks Creek blaze, believed to be Queensland's worst-ever house fire.

Mr Lale arrived at Wednesday's funeral at Hillsong Church, Mt Gravatt, in the hearse carrying his wife.

Following behind were five more hearses. They were led by a police escort.

About 100 family members gathered around the hearses and consoled Mr Lale, one of three survivors of the blaze, who was unable to save his young family.

Huge bouquets of flowers adorned the white coffins.

About 2000 people crowded into the church, including about 30 students and teachers of Glenala State High School, firefighters, police, and state minister Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Speeches were expected from Logan Mayor Pam Parker, Queensland Police Assistant Commissioner Paul Wilson and Glenala State High School principal Corrine McMillan.

Melesisi Hopoate, a cousin of Teukisia Lale and mother of former NRL player John Hopoate, thanked Virgin airlines for refunding the cost of flights for 30 relatives who flew in from Sydney.

Holding back tears, Mrs Hopoate said the fire had been a shocking tragedy for family members all over Australia and the world.

"My dad is the eldest in the family, he is in America and is 89 and he cannot be here," she told reporters.

"I think the whole family, 11 people gone, still cannot understand why.

"I was to be strong, I was not crying, but today I cannot understand it anymore, knowing they are gone."

Some mourners are wearing black T-shirts depicting the family and emblazoned with the words "forever in our hearts" and "rest in peace", while others are wearing traditional Pacific Islander ceremonial dress.

The funeral for the remaining victims will be held on Saturday.

The disaster's other survivors were family patriarch Tau Taufa and Misi Matauina, who lost his partner and two young daughters to the fire.


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