A Whangārei teenager has been left with nothing but the school uniform she was wearing after a fire wrecked her cabin on the family's Puwera property near Portland.
Shakyla Selwyn, 13, had been home for less than 15 minutes when a fire believed to be started by an electrical fault with a charger sparked a blaze inside the cabin - the teen's bedroom - and destroyed the sleep-out plus a carport and three sheds on Tuesday around 4.15pm.
Her mother Moana Selwyn said the experience had been devastating, "to say the least".
"She is struggling because she was the only one there who saw her bed and bedside table engulfed in flames. It destroyed her entire life in her cabin."
Crews from Whangārei, Hikurangi, Maungakaramea, Onerahi and Portland responded to the blaze around 200m south of SH1 and Portland Rd junction. Firefighters remained at the scene until 8pm.
Selwyn said Shakyla had put her school bag in the cabin and started washing dishes in the house when she picked up the scent of smoke in the air.
"She turned around and saw smoke coming in the front door."
Selwyn was down the hallway getting clothes out of the washing machine when she heard Shakyla screaming from outside that the cabin was on fire.
Her one-year-old baby, the youngest of her four children, was asleep in the house at the time the fire started.
Selwyn grabbed a hose to try and douse the flames but no water came out due to a burst water main near SH1.
"Instead we had to stand there and watch it unfold," Selwyn said. "The wind direction blew the fire into the shed next to the cabin - destroyed that. Then it moved onto the carport and then the next lot of sheds."
The buildings house a large number of children's bikes, racing equipment, tools, paints, lawnmowers and car parts.
But some luck was on the family's side as two gas bottles used for the home located in close proximity to the fire miraculously did not explode, Selwyn said.
"One of them was full and the other was a quarter full. With the heat and damage being done around the bottles no-one could figure out how they didn't go off."
Neighbours had rushed across the paddocks armed with fire extinguishers to help while others took Selwyn's three other children away to safety to shield them from the distressing scene.
The family were unable to stay at the property as there was minor smoke damage and no power or hot water as powerlines near the home were destroyed in the fire.
Selwyn said they had been inundated with acts of kindness from the community since news of the fire broke.
People had donated clothes and blankets to Shakyla. A woman moving house the afternoon of the fire provided dinner for the family that evening after spotting the blaze from SH1.
"It has blown us away how much support and help we've been given within Whangārei," Selwyn said. "We are so, so grateful to everyone who has offered us help."
A Givealittle page has been set up to help the family as the house was insured but the contents were not.
Keep your home safe when it comes to electrical leads and cords with these top tips:
Don't overload multi-boards. At most, plug in one appliance per wall or multi-board socket.
Never plug an adaptor or multi-board into another adaptor or multi-board.
Make sure leads and cords are in good condition and not frayed.
Never put extension cords under carpets or mats, and avoid using them while they are tightly coiled.
Ensure furniture does not rest on top of electrical leads.
Remember that extension cords are not designed to be permanent replacements to your home's internal wiring.