A mother and daughter killed in a fire in Footscray this week had an “enormous” love for each other, according to distraught family.
Tanya and Zoe Elizabeth Burmeister, along with an unidentified male known as ‘Bluey’, were squatting in the former Kinnears rope factory in Footscray last Wednesday night when Darren Patrick Clover, 52, allegedly lit the fire that took their life.
Clover was arrested on Thursday and charged with three counts of murder, arson causing death, and arson.
Sharren Jeffs said she was devastated by the death of her daughter, Tanya, and beloved granddaughter, Zoe, in such tragic circumstances.
“The love they had for each other was just enormous,” she said.
Ms Jeffs said it had been about a week since she had last heard from Tanya, 32, and Zoe, 15.
“I thought Zoe was under the DHS, but she wanted to be with her mum,” she said. “You can’t just tie her up; they wanted to be together.
“I would just like to bury my daughter and granddaughter.”
Ms Jeffs said Clover was known to Tanya and Zoe.
A friend of Tanya’s said he was shocked by the tragedy. “Tanya didn’t deserve the way she went, and the others …”
The owner of a nearby milk bar said Tanya and the unidentified man would come in each day to use the pay phone and withdraw money from the ATM. “We never had any trouble with them; they were always nice, here every day,” she said.
The blaze came just one day after Maribyrnong council approved plans for the $63 million first stage of the Kinnears site redevelopment.
Mayor Catherine Cumming said the council received complaints from a resident about six months ago about squatters occupying the site.
She said a local laws officer visited the site on a few occasions before locating one of the squatters and providing him with brochures and contact details for homeless service organisations.
“As well as that, the council put orders on the developer to secure the site.”
Site owner R & F Estate Pty Ltd said in a statement it had 24-hour security on the site and was saddened and distressed about the loss of life in the fire.
Footscray police’s Inspector Adrian Healy said police would meet with Maribyrnong council this week to discuss the extent of squatting in the area.
“We are also keen to learn whether there is any relocation of people to the area who are being forced out of the CBD.”
Clover is due to appear via video link for a committal mention on Thursday.