Police probe fatal fire in O¯mokoroa
Police and fire authorities are investigating the cause of a fatal house fire in mokoroa in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Fire and EmergencyNewZealand confirmed on Tuesday a person’s body was found inside but would not confirm the person’s gender at this stage.
However, neighbours woken by the blaze say awoman believed to be in her 30s lived alone in the home.
Acouple, who would only be known as Jake and Christine, said they woke about 4.30am to the sound of fire, breaking glass and a smoke alarm sounding.
“We ran around there. The whole front of the house was on fire,” Jake said.
Christine said the fire was “massive”.
“I rang the fire brigade and went around banging on the house. Wegot in there, the front door was unlocked, but the smoke was too much, way too much.
“It was down to here,” Christine pointing to her ankles.
The couple said the operator on the phone instructed them to stay outside the house as firefighters responded.
“It was hard, but also, we don’t know the layout inside the house, and there was so much smoke. There was no way we would have been able to do anything. It’s just sad because there was nothing we could do,” Christine said.
Another couple said they woke to a lot of banging, crashing and popping before realising what was happening.
“It sounded like someone was trying to break into the house. I looked out, and there were flames.”
The woman, who would not be named, called 111 and said the fire appeared to be concentrated on the lower level of the twostorey home. She believed the fire started in the kitchen area.
The womanand her husband said they could hear the other neighbours yelling out and banging on the house and knew there was nothing more they could do.
“The fire was too intense then. It’s very sad.”
The couple began hosing down their house and trees to prevent the fire from spreading as firefighters arrived.
Bay of Plenty Coast assistant area commander Scott Bell said the property, located below road level, was ‘quite difficult’ to access.
“From the road area we could see a little bit of flame coming through the roof, but when we went through the property, there were flames all through all levels.”
When volunteer firefighters from the mokoroa brigade arrived, back up was called for from Tauranga, Greerton and Katikati. About 20 firefighters worked to control the fire, which reignited shortly after 6am and was still smoking at 8.30am.
POLICE and firefighters at the scene of a fatal house ¯fireinO mokoroa on Tuesday morning.