As fire tore through the house leaving her with nothing more than she was wearing, Napier woman Sharron Paramore collapsed to the ground in shock and tears.

But she was consoled by her daughter who simply told her: "Mum, we all got out."

"That is the important thing," Casey Mewburn said.

"We are all here."


Ms Mewburn had been in a state of shock, she said yesterday as she looked over the gutted shell of what had been her mother's well-kept Housing New Zealand home in McLaren Crescent, Maraenui, where she had lived for about 15 years.

Her eight-month-old daughter Havvana had been in a room at the other end of the house away from the kitchen she and her mother were sitting in.

She lives across the road from the house her mother shared with Susan Hicks and often popped over for lunch or a coffee.

Apart from the three adults there were five children and grandchildren inside when the fire broke out about 12.15pm on Saturday.

Ms Mewburn heard a smoke detector begin to go off - then heard one of the children cry out "fire!"

She said it all happened so suddenly and ferociously - the fire tearing through one room, up into the ceiling area and into the next room.

She dashed through the smoke-filled hall to the room where her baby was asleep, grabbing her and getting her out.

Ms Paramore and Ms Hicks ran to get the other children out.


There was panic for a few minutes when one of the little boys could not be found - but he was spotted outside hiding from the fire behind a tree.

The fire spread rapidly through the house, but did not deter Ms Paramore who dashed to the wash-house at the rear to get her beloved dog out.

Neighbour Robert Daley had been in his garage and saw smoke billowing across his section as he walked outside.

"I could hear the kids screaming and saw them getting out - it was going up so fast."

He ran through his house and out the front but said the smoke had become so thick he could not see the gate just 6m away.

"I saw Sharron come out and she just collapsed. It was frightening to see it all just going up."

Other neighbours, and stunned guests at an 80th birthday party taking place at nearby Pukemokimoki Marae, could only watch as flames tore through the house which was well ablaze when firefighters arrived.

It was those neighbours, and the extended families and friends of Ms Paramore and Ms Hicks, who began rallying around them yesterday.

Offers of furniture, clothing, bedding and money to get by had started to come in.

Toni Maunde, said she was so close to the families she felt like Ms Paramore was her own mother.

"She is an awesome lady, and we will rally around and help them get back on their feet again. It's a terrible thing to happen - especially right on Christmas."

The women had been able to save only three or four Christmas presents.

"They lost pretty well everything else."

Ms Mewburn said she was unable to look across the road and see her mum's destroyed house without breaking down.

"I came out and sat on the front step and just cried. I cried all night."

The tragedy was the second to hit Ms Paramore in the past five years. In March 2007 her grandson was knocked over by a car in the driveway and died.

She and Ms Hicks had stayed with family since the fire and it is understood Housing New Zealand was arranging a unit for them to move into today.

The fire was believed to have broken out in a room where the children had been playing but it was not known how it started.

Her family said despite the shock of the fire and losing everything, Ms Paramore went off to her cleaning job yesterday not just to take her mind off it, but because she did not want to let her employer down.