Fatal-blaze survivor too ill to talk

By Elizabeth Binning

The police and Fire Service say it's too early to say what caused the house fire. Photo / Sarah Ivey
The police and Fire Service say it's too early to say what caused the house fire. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Police hope to learn today whether there are any suspicious circumstances surrounding a house fire that claimed a woman's life at the weekend.

The victim, who had still not been publicly identified late last night, was found dead in the bedroom of the Glenfield home, which caught fire just before 7.30pm on Saturday.

A young man, who is believed to have also lived in the house, is in Middlemore Hospital with extensive burns to his hands, but he has not yet been able to tell police what happened.

Neighbours found him outside the burning home moaning and saying he couldn't get to the woman to save her.

One neighbour told the Herald he heard screaming during the fire but wasn't sure if it was coming from the occupants of the house or other neighbours.

"I heard a lady's voice, screaming and shouting, but I couldn't hear [what she was saying]."

He looked outside to see the View Rd home, which is down a shared driveway, fully ablaze.

"I saw the flames, big big flames about five metres high, and I saw the house was very burned out. I heard people screaming and they called the firefighters, and an ambulance came."

Another neighbour said the only time they had heard from the couple in the house was when they put a leaflet in the letterboxes of neighbours to let them know they were going to hold a party.

It is understood the fire is being treated as suspicious at this stage and it was hoped a post-mortem examination, due to be carried out this morning, will shed more light on how the woman died.

One neighbour said police had gone door to door asking residents if they had seen or heard anything suspicious before the fire. Detective Senior Sergeant Kim Libby of the North Shore CIB said officers were not looking for anyone in connection with the blaze, but given that a person had died, an investigation had to be carried out.

"We are dealing with a fatal house fire where one person has died. As with any death, we must investigate the circumstances and identify possible causes of death."

Fire Safety Officer Ray Coleman said it was too early to say how the fire started. There did not appear to be any working smoke alarms in the house.

Firefighters returned to the badly damaged house late yesterday to try to weatherproof it so any evidence would not be lost overnight.

Mr Coleman said he hoped to start the scene examination today.

- NZ Herald

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