A survivor of a fire that gutted a Rotorua warehouse, killing teenage girl Mihinui Tamiana, tried to run back into the inferno to save her, but was tackled and restrained by a firefighter who saved his life, a witness says.
Danya Hansen is suffering multiple burns from a blaze early on Sunday morning that killed 14-year-old Mihinui Tamiana, who was sleeping on a mezzanine floor after an unruly party involving more than 100 young people.
The Herald understands Danya is a former student at Western Heights High School and his father Albert holds the tenancy for the building at 81 Riri St.
His mother, Charity Hansen, yesterday said her son was recovering at Waikato Hospital where he is being treated for serious burns to the arms, chest and face.
"I'm here and I've been with him since he was here and he's doing well."
Mrs Hansen confirmed her son had in the past stayed at the warehouse on a mezzanine floor but had since moved home. She denied claims a previous party was held at the warehouse to raise money for a petrol generator.
The generator is believed to have started the fire which erupted after the party.
Last night police said they wouldn't be drawn into speculation on the cause, including reports a Molotov cocktail was thrown into the building.
A witness said at least one firefighter tackled Danya as he tried to get back into the building to save Mihinui.
The person said Danya tried to run around firefighters but one of them wrestled him to the ground and restrained him as he kicked and screamed to be let go.
"He would have died if he got within 10 feet of that place, the fire was really rollicking at that time."
One of Mihinui's best friends, Kalehi Apete, 14, revealed Mihinui was sceptical about going to the party but eventually agreed to attend with the girl she was supposed to be staying with.
It was only the second party she had been to.
"She didn't like drinking and being rebellious, she was a good girl at heart. She really liked talking to people and making new friends, she didn't enjoy that whole being-drunk image.
"She didn't really know the people holding it and doesn't really enjoy drinking either, she just went to socialise. She's not much of a partygoer. She just wanted to make friends and hang out with them."
A group of about 15 of Mihinui's friends gathered at the edge of Lake Rotorua and let balloons into the sky to honour their friend yesterday.
Tipene Teka, an uncle to the 14-year-old, said it was unclear where her tangi would be held but her family had links to the Ruatahuna area.
Anyone with information about this fire is asked to contact Rotorua police on (07) 348- 0099.