Australian nurse charged with murder in fatal fire at Sydney aged care facility (VIDEO)


Police establish an investigation after a fire engulfed a nursing home for the elderly, killing at least three and seriously injuring eight, near Sydney on November 18, 2011. Hundreds of firefighters, police and paramedics raced to the Quakers Hill Nursing Home when an automatic fire alarm went off.


Torsten Blackwood

A nurse has been charged with murder over a fire that killed five elderly residents of an aged care facility in Australia.

Firefighters have described on national TV the horrific scenes they encountered when responding to the fire at the Quakers Hill Nursing Home in Sydney.

More than 30 people hurt in the fire at the home remain in hospital, some in intensive care.

Meanwhile, Roger Dean, 35, appeared via video link Saturday in a local court, but said nothing and was remanded into custody until next week.

He had been appeared on news bulletins the day before, describing how he helped staff to save residents from the blaze.

"I just quickly just did what I can to get everyone out," Dean told reporters in an interview aired on several TV stations. "The smoke was just overwhelming, you know, we got a lot of people out, so that’s the main thing."

On Saturday evening, the same footage was aired with his face digitally masked.

Homicide Squad Detective Superintendent Michael Willing would not say what led police to believe that Dean was responsible, or suggest a suspected motive for the crimes, the Washington Post reported.

Hundreds of firefighters were called in to battle the flames and evacuate about 100 elderly residents. Police rteportedly suspect the fire broke out in two separate wings of the facility.

New South Wales Fire and Rescue Commissioner Greg Mullins described the blaze as a firefighter's "worst nightmare."

"Crews had to literally crawl on their hands and knees into every room in the complex, reach up under the beds, searching cupboards, anywhere where someone may have crawled away," he said according to the BBC.

Three people were pronounced dead at the scene, while another died in hospital overnight and a fifth died on Saturday.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard described the tragedy as "a very dark day."

"To imagine the frail, elderly people caught up in a fire like that, at risk of being engulfed by flames, is truly horrifying," the BBC quoted her as saying. "My condolences go to the families who have lost loved ones and to those whose loved ones are now in hospital and who are with them and awaiting news of their condition."

Dean faces a life sentence if convicted.