A woman killed in a fiery house blaze in Tirau used her stove as a form of heating, her best friend says.

The friend turned up to the cordon at Little St this afternoon, shocked after seeing a photo of the house on social media.

"I knew it was her as soon as I saw the photo [of scene] on Facebook," the woman said, choking back tears.

The dead woman, who was 58-years-old, was about to move towns as the house was on the market. The house itself was run down, her friend said.

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"She used to use the stove [as a heater] ... there was a gas heater in there but it leaked, the owner never fixed it. She never turned it on because she could smell the gas.

"She's been in there for years."

The friend said she'd last heard from her a few days ago.

"She rung me a few days ago and I didn't answer it because I was in Gisborne."

She hadn't seen her friend in a while.

The woman was known to get around by hitchhiking.

"She hitchhiked everywhere."

The pair met when they were in their 20s, living in Mangakino.

"I'm 60 and she was coming up 60 ... we lived together for years. She was an amazing person. So talented, crafty."

Neighbours gather on Little St, Tirau, where a fatal fire occurred early today. Photo/Belinda Feek
Neighbours gather on Little St, Tirau, where a fatal fire occurred early today. Photo/Belinda Feek

Now that she was older her biggest passions were her grandchildren, she said.
"She lived for her grandchildren."

The woman lived in the house by herself but had her granddaughter living with her at times, too.

The Fire Service recommends people have their chimneys swept regularly.