An 11-year-old girl who escaped the fatal house fire which claimed the lives of her mother, brother and grandmother is inconsolable with grief.
Her 5-year-old brother, 39-year-old mother and 66-year-old grandmother - died in the fire at the Plantation Ave home in Flat Bush on last night.
The girl, her grandfather and her father, Kaileshan Thanabalasingham, survived the blaze; with the latter in a critical but stable condition in Middlemore Hospital's intensive care unit tonight.
Sivaram Anandasivam, a close friend of Kaileshan Thanabalasingham, said the young girl cried inconsolably when she was told of her loved ones' deaths.
"She started crying, crying the whole day."
Both the girl and her grandfather were taken to Middlemore Hospital before being released yesterday.
They were now being cared for by family friends.
Anandasivam said they seemed to be physically okay but were obviously "traumatised".
The girl's grandparents lived in Canada and had been in New Zealand on a family holiday.
Close friends and relatives from Canada were due to fly into New Zealand tomorrow.
"They'll come and they're going to have a brief discussion about how they're going to conduct the funerals."
Thanabalasingham, a 47-year-old refugee advocate originally from Sri Lanka, suffered burns to 40 per cent of his body.
Anandasivam said Thanabalasingham had his third operation this morning.
He added the tragedy which claimed the lives of the three family members had been hard to comprehend.
"I'm thinking about Kailesh. When I heard the news he was stable that's given me some kind of relief, but that's not going to change my mindset," he said.
Barrister Deborah Manning said Thanabalasingham had worked tirelessly for other people since he came to New Zealand as a refugee more than 10 years ago.
"He didn't come to New Zealand to look after himself. He made sure he looked after as many people as he could."
Thanabalasingham is an executive officer of the Refugee Council of New Zealand.
"Everybody is just in a state of shock and stress and utter sadness for the loss of his beautiful wife and son," Manning said.
Neighbours of the Flat Bush home looked on in horror as the blaze took control of the house on Thursday morning.
They were alerted to the tragedy after hearing screaming and glass breaking in the home.
"All I heard was screaming, I just thought people were arguing, and then glass breaking, I just thought people were throwing things at each other," Julie Pedrido said.
"I just woke up to fire sirens and the police. And then I looked out the window and I couldn't really see the fire, I just saw light and smoke."
Another resident posted on Facebook: "We are right next door. Can't get the father's cries out of my head. So horrible."
The Fire Service arrived within five minutes of the initial 111 call. The blaze had torn through the house by the time they arrived.
It emerged the 11-year-old girl bravely escaped the blaze to tell firefighters people were trapped inside.
Investigations into the cause of the fire are continuing.
The charity Refugees as Survivors New Zealand has set up a Give A Little page to raise money for Kaileshan and his family.
"We respect and admire Kailesh for his work with asylum seekers and refugees in the community. If anyone was in trouble, day or night, he would help them," the page reads.
"The least we can do is to help him in his hour of need."
More than $48,000 had been donated by 8:30pm tonight.