At first, she was calm. Connie Zhang called her boyfriend, Terry Li on September 6, to tell him the air conditioner on the balcony of his apartment was on fire. She asked him to come home and take a look, so he quickly left work.

But less than a minute later, when Mr Li called his girlfriend of two years again, the situation was far worse. The fire in the Bankstown apartment block was out of control. The front door was blocked and Mr Li's flatmate Yino Jiang and Ms Zhang had been forced to take refuge in a bedroom. The call cut out, so he phoned back immediately. By now, Ms Zhang was incoherent. She kept saying there was a lot of smoke and couldn't answer any questions.

''About a minute into the phone call, she was talking to someone else and didn't speak to me again,'' Mr Li said.

In the space of just five minutes and three phone calls, Mr Li heard his girlfriend's life be ''consumed by fire,'' he told Fairfax.

Ms Zhang and Ms Jiang had been forced to climb out the bedroom window and were hanging on to the window frame as bystanders yelled at them to wait for fire crews.

However, the heat became too much and they jumped 15 metres to the horror of onlookers, hitting a first floor ledge. Mr Li arrived after his girlfriend fell to her death.

Ms Jiang remains in Liverpool Hospital in a stable condition but Mr Li lost the girl he thought he would marry.

The girls stood almost no chance. The fire reached 1000 degrees and melted the aluminium frame they were clinging to. From her hospital bed, Ms Jiang told Mr Li that the carpet in her bedroom burnt violently with flames leaping up to 40cm.

The fire reached flashover point - an explosive burst that occurs when a fire is so hot that gases and smoke ignite - within 15 minutes. A wind tunnel, created by leaving the front fire-safety door open, may have contributed.

Ms Zhang's parents were too distraught by the death of their only child to speak at her funeral on Friday, which was attended by friends and teachers from Sydney University and Menai High School.