Working smoke alarms could be the difference between life and death, the fire service is warning.

Fire and Emergency is appealing to people to make sure they have working smoke alarms following a fatal fire in Mangere Bridge last weekend.

A 68-year-old man died on Sunday 10 June in a house fire on Church Rd, near the Coronation Rd shopping centre. He did not appear to have working smoke alarms in his home.

Neighbours noticed smoke coming from the house and called 111.

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Fire fighters arrived quickly to find the house engulfed in flames.

Geoff Purcell, Fire and Emergency NZ area manager for Counties-Manukau, said smoke alarms were a key first step to alerting people to a fire and helping them to get out of their homes alive.

"Without one many people will not be able to get out of their home should there be a fire. They will be overcome by smoke. It's a silent killer. Many people don't realise how quickly a house fire can take hold."

Fire and Emergency also recommended people plan an escape route and keep all items at least one metre away from heaters.

Fatal house fire in Mangere Bridge, South Auckland