Kyra is the Rotorua Daily Post's police, emergency and court reporter.

Update: Reporoa house 'badly damaged' after fire

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A devastated Reporoa family say they have likely lost everything they own after fire ripped through their home.

The Rotorua Fire Brigade was called to a house fire on State Highway 5 that left the owners, Anita Ngapene Webby and her husband Lloyd Warren Webby, "devastated" and their home destroyed.

Mrs Webby had just put a log on the fire and was sitting beside it when she heard two "big booms" and sparks started flicking out.

"It went up the roof and that's when I ran outside, it started flicking out on the lawn. I yelled at my sister-in-law, 'what should I do?' And she called the ambulance and told me not to go back inside.

The scene of the fire on State Highway 5 Reporoa.  Photo/Ben Fraser
The scene of the fire on State Highway 5 Reporoa. Photo/Ben Fraser


"I'm devastated, I don't have a roof over my head. I don't know what's damaged or what isn't damaged inside yet."

She said she felt like she had lost everything because she had no insurance.

The roof was left black with holes through it on one side and there was extensive damage throughout the house leaving it inhabitable.

Rotorua Fire Brigade senior station officer Jim Prescott said they had been called to the fire at 11.59am.

Firefighters dampen down the house.   Photo/Ben Fraser
Firefighters dampen down the house. Photo/Ben Fraser


"Upon arrival we found the house fully involved in flames and the brigade took eight minutes to put out."

He said the house was evacuated and there were no injuries.

Mr Prescott said it was difficult to battle the fire because there were no fire hydrants in the area. An extra tanker had to be called in.

Rotorua fire safety investigator Stuart Bootten said the fire was most likely caused by a buildup of birds nests in the ceiling.

"There was a lot of straw in the ceiling and right up against the flue . . . As the fire has developed in the roof she [Mrs Webby] would have heard the fire explode."

He said it was important for people in the country to check ceilings yearly for straw around light fittings or wires.

Mr Bootten said the house didn't have a fire alarm, but encouraged others to have them installed.

Mrs Webby's sister-in-law, Jane Phillips, lives behind her house and was very sad to see the property in front of her burn.

"I rang the fire brigade and went down and got her [Mrs Webby's] husband and I made sure no one went back in.

"It's especially devastating for her," she said.

Mrs Webby's niece who lives across from her heard the fire start.

"We thought it was gun shots. When we got here the flames were in the roof and when the fire brigade got here the fire went boom and all the ceiling was covered.

"It's really sad. They don't deserve this. They don't harm anyone. They just go about their day-to-day lives," she said.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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