Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Woman was alive when fire took hold

The house where a young mother died in a house fire yesterday. Photo / Sarah Ivey
The house where a young mother died in a house fire yesterday. Photo / Sarah Ivey

An Ethiopian woman who died in a ferocious house fire in Auckland yesterday morning was alive when the blaze took hold, police say.

Meme Woldeyesus, a mother of three, was found dead in a rear bedroom of the house on Saxon St, Waterview, after firefighters extinguished the flames shortly after 10.30am.

Police and fire investigators remained at the house today and would probably continue their scene examination tomorrow.

A post-mortem examination was carried out today but police could not comment on the cause of death as it was a matter for the coroner to determine, a spokeswoman said.

Police could confirm, however, that she was alive when the fire took hold.

The cause of the fire had not been established, although it had been determined that it was not electrical.

Fire safety officer Ray Coleman said it was still too early in the investigation to say whether it was suspicious.

"We're still looking and we're still poking and we're still prodding," he said.

It was a "distinct possibility" that the fire started in the bedroom where she was found, but this could not be confirmed yet.

Close friend Fetiya Mohammed said Ms Woldeyesus came to New Zealand recently to be with her sister, who had arrived here as a refugee at least seven years ago.

She had three children, who were being looked after by extended family.

Police said they were working with interpreters and had also involved the Auckland police district's North African liaison officer.

Neighbours said the fire was so hot it caused windows to smash and they saw flames reaching high above the roof of the small suburban dwelling.

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