Source: AAP | Published: Friday June 23

Survivors tell of harrowing escape
Survivors of a fatal fire in a Queensland backpackers hostel escaped across the roof of a neighboring building to safety after waking in the middle of the night to smell smoke.

One survivor, an English backpacker identified only as Emma, told how she knew it was a fire as soon as she woke up and screamed at her room-mates to get out.

"I just could smell, I don't know, I never got up so quickly in my bed before, I just could smell it a mile away," she told the ABC.

Emma said she heard no smoke alarm at the hostel in Childers, inland of Harvey Bay, where fifteen people have been confirmed dead and still more missing.

"We heard nothing. I only woke up because it was crashing around us and .. we thought someone was trying to vandalise the place," she said.

"We heard cracking around us, windows, one of the girls woke up .. I instantly knew it was a fire, and so I screamed at everybody to get out."

Emma said her room fronted on to the balcony of the historic timber building and she and her room-mates were able to escape onto the verandah and run across the roof to an adjoining shop.

She said they had first tried to get out through the internal door but the handle was so hot it had burned one of the girl's hands.

"We all piled out onto the balcony and we could see the smoke coming out of it so we all clambered across to the shop, we walked along the rooftop," she said.

"When we came down to the ground on the opposite side it all went up."

One of her room-mates, whose name was not given, said one reason the group had been able to get out quickly was because she had been lying awake and heard loud cracking noises.

"We were really lucky because I was awake already and we got out pretty quickly and the five of us in our room didn't even see the smoke and the flames ... until we got out," she said.