Murder charges laid over Vic house fire

A woman has been charged with murder over a Melbourne house fire that killed a young family.
A woman has been charged with murder over a Melbourne house fire that killed a young family.

A woman has been charged with murder after being accused of lighting a Melbourne house fire that claimed the lives of a young couple and their newborn daughter

The Point Cook townhouse was destroyed in the Wednesday morning blaze, with the bodies of three people including a three-week-old girl found in the ashes.

The intensity of the fire raised suspicions among arson and explosives squad detectives that it may have been deliberately lit, with police arresting Jenny Hayes, 46, in Airport West on Thursday morning.

She was later charged with three counts of murder plus arson causing death and declined to appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday night as her case was briefly mentioned.

Magistrate Luisa Bazzani questioned what the relationship was between Hayes and the family, but her lawyer Erin Byrt said it was yet to be disclosed.

Hayes is due back in court in March.

It comes as her alleged victims were identified as 19-year-old Abbey Forrest, 28-year-old Inda Sohal and their newborn baby Ivy.

Abbey's sister Emily visited what remains of the house on Thursday, laying flowers and a Peppa Pig doll outside.

"This should be the perfect time of their life," she told reporters on Thursday.

"Now this awful tragedy has happened."

The young family had only moved to the two-storey home on Totem Way after the birth of their daughter on November 13, Ms Forrest said.

Townhouses on either side of the home were also badly damaged in the fire, which was brought under control in about an hour.

Ms Forrest said the family was desperate to know what happened.

Neighbours have recalled hearing screams and cries for help, with one man said to have thrown an axe and rocks to break an upstairs window that wouldn't open.

Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Kennedy also said a neighbour tried to use a ladder to rescue the occupants, but was overwhelmed by the intensity of the flames.

Ms Forrest thanked them for their efforts.

"It just makes me feel at ease that there were decent people around who were trying to help her, to risk your own life to try and help save someone in that horrible situation," she said.

She's set up a GoFundMe page to cover funeral and memorial costs, raising more than $10,000 in less than 24 hours.

Australian Associated Press