Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Young woman killed in house fire

Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

A young woman has been killed in a house fire in suburban Auckland this morning.

The woman, understood to be Ethiopian, had been living in the house on Saxon St, Waterview for only about two weeks.

Neighbours said flames smashed the windows and rose above the roof about 10.30am today.

The woman is understood to have a son, aged around five, who is at school and had yet to be told of his mother's death.

Police officers at the scene were trying to comfort a group of six or so veiled women, some of whom had collapsed in grief on the grass outside the house.

A large contingent of fire investigators and police were at the scene.

Local resident Mekonnen Melese Tafete said his daughter went to primary school with the woman's son, whom he thought to be about five or six.

She had moved into the house just two weeks ago, having recently arrived in the country.

"It's very hard, very hard. At the school when we would meet, she had a good smile and we would greet each other, exchange greetings. She was a very nice lady, very polite.''

He had asked police not to tell her son yet because his English was not good and it would be best for an Ethiopian to break the news.

Neighbour James Connoley said he heard someone yelling "fire, fire, fire!'' this morning.

"I rocked outside and saw a whole billow of smoke and though `oh man, my boat's on fire' but then I looked out the back and saw that two windows of the next door house were out.

"The flames were gushing higher than the roof. It was huge, they were just pouring out."

He had met the woman a couple of times before and she seemed very nice.

"A ball came over the neighbour's fence the other day and we asked whether it was her son's. We threw it back over to them and they seemed happy, seemed like friendly neighbours.''

Another neighbour, Aaron Wells, said he smelt what he thought was burning tyres about 10 minutes before going outside.

"I went out there to hang my washing out and I saw the smoke before the windows popped and then the flames started coming out the windows.

"It's really sad, just yesterday I spoke to her. I asked her whether she was going to plant anything in her garden and she said `yeah, they were going to dig the garden up once they'd settled'. There was nothing unusual, seemed like a nice person.''

- APNZ

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