Police are investigating the death of a 32-year-old woman in a Wanganui house fire yesterday.
Thick, acrid smoke was seen throughout Wanganui as it billowed from the Durie Hill bungalow in Maxwell Ave about 1pm yesterday. Firefighters in breathing apparatus worked for more than an hour to bring the blaze under control.
Residents from the immediate vicinity watched as fire, police and St John Ambulance stood by, and a lines company arrived to disconnect the power.
A man who lived next to the property said he was in his studio when his partner told him the neighbour's house was on fire.
He said he ran out to see flames leaping out of the side of the house. He did not know the people who lived there.
As the firemen doused the flames, the fire took hold in the roof at the front of the house.
They then began to tear away parts of the roof and eaves for better access and to dampen down material that could reignite. There was extensive damage to the house from the fire.
At 3pm yesterday, Whanganui police and fire were still at the house and people who lived on Maxwell Ave and Hutchison Cres were told to leave their cars on Plunket St and walk to their homes.
The cause of the fire was being investigated by Whanganui Police and the Whanganui Fire Service.
Police said the woman was the sole occupant of the house at the time. She is survived by her partner and three children.
Her details would not be released until next of kin had been informed, police said.
They would like to hear from anyone who witnessed the fire or noticed anything suspicious in the area at the time. Anyone with information is asked to contact Whanganui Police on (06) 349 0600 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.