The inquest is finally over, and a Hastings family is doing its best to move on.

It's been 20 months since Hastings man Donald MacDonald tragically lost his eight-year-old twin daughters Hannah and Jessie in a house fire, but as the family tries to move on with their lives, there's one thing he wants people to remember - get out and stay out when confronted by fire.

An inquest yesterday identified an LPG heater in the lounge of the family's Oliphant Place home as the most likely cause of the August 25, 2003, fire - but failed to settle on a definite cause.

Mr MacDonald says he and his son Johnathon, aged 10 at the time of the fire, still think of Hannah and Jessie every day.

"We talk about them daily. As far as we're concerned they're still with us," he said.

Mr MacDonald remembers the twins as "very energetic girls ... full-on" who were always into mischief and took great delight in teasing their father.

The girls' grandfather, Napier MP Russell Fairbrother, said Jessie and Hannah would not have gone back into the house if they thought they were putting themselves in danger.

"The girls wouldn't have been there if there was any sense of heat or impending danger," he said.

As for the girls' brother Johnathon, Mr MacDonald said he and his son still "have their moments" but described him as "a remarkable child" who was doing really well.

Johnathon remains close to Raureka School, which he attended with his sisters. Raureka School has planted trees and erected a plaque in memory of the twins.

A new home now stands on the site of the fatal fire, and Mr MacDonald said even if the old house which the family had lived in for eight or nine years had not been badly damaged, returning to live in the old dwelling would have been "too much."

Mr MacDonald has steered clear of media coverage surrounding the fire, but said the family had pulled together to help battle through the tough times.

"The support has always been there, it's a large factor in the way we've dealt with this."

There's been plenty of outside help too, with Mr Fairbrother saying the family will never be able to properly thank people for their support. Once such supporter was an ambulance officer who lives in the neighbourhood, and who helped a badly injured Mr MacDonald attend his daughters' funeral. Mr Fairbrother is also full of praise for police, St John's Ambulance and the fire service.

Mr MacDonald has overcome his injuries well, and is now studying at the Eastern Institute of Technology. He is relieved at getting the inquest out of the way.

"It's nice to get the process over and done with, get some closure and move on."

- HAWKE'S BAY TODAY