A teenager who tragically died in a house fire last week missed celebrating his 20th birthday by three days.

Zacariah James Woodroofe, 19, died at a farm house on Te Rahu Rd at Poroporo in the Bay of Plenty last Wednesday after it went up in flames. He was due to turn 20 last Saturday.

It is believed the young man, who was a farm assistant, was cooking dinner and fell asleep after leaving his meal unattended to watch TV.

A family friend, Grace Gardiner, said an investigation into the incident was still underway but family had been told the fire had stemmed from the kitchen of the small farm house he was living in.


"We know that the incident happened in the kitchen but that is just a rough estimated guess. It was definitely caused by cooking in the kitchen but we don't know what he was cooking ... that is just our understanding at the moment."

The teen's death has shocked family and friends who are devastated at his loss.

"He had a lot of friends and a huge support system. He was humble and kind and friendly," Ms Gardiner said. "His mum is staying strong but she is devastated, his whole family is. Words cannot describe the hurt and weight it has had on the community."

Mr Woodroofe was the oldest of five siblings.

A Givealittle page has been set up by Ms Gardiner to assist his family with funeral costs.

On the page she described the former Whakatane High School student as a kind and humble young man.

"Zac was loved by everyone, he always puts his friends and family before his own needs, he was generous, kind-hearted and enjoyed making people laugh. He was a jokester.

"This accident is heart-wrenching and could have happened to any one of us."

Ms Gardiner wrote that Zac's puppy had also died in the blaze.

The page has so far garnered over $1000 in pledges since it was set up two days ago.

Donations can be made here; https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/helpzac.

According to his obituary, a funeral service will be held in the St Peter Chanel Catholic Church, King St, Whakatane on Wednesday March 23 at 11am, followed by private cremation.

It said he was the much loved and joyful son of Paula and "most wonderful older brother to Sammy, Danielle, Jessica, and Brody".