Po­lice probe fa­tal fire in O¯moko­roa

Katikati Advertiser - - News - By KIRI GILLE­SPIE

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.

PHOTO: JOHN BORREN

PO­LICE and fire­fight­ers at the scene of a fa­tal house ¯fireinO moko­roa on Tues­day morn­ing.

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