• Tamatea house fire ruled accidental, cause likely electrical fault

Tamatea house fire ruled accidental, cause likely electrical fault

Firefighters investigating a large house fire that broke out in Tamatea this morning have found it was caused by an electrical fault.  

Emergency services were called to the home on Wynyard Cres, Tamatea shortly after 6am. Four fire crews including two pumps from Napier and one from Hastings arrived at the scene to find the house "well ablaze". 

Fire and Emergency New Zealand Hawke's Bay Area Commander Ken Cooper said the fire began in the lounge after an electrical fault with the property's older television. 

He said the six occupants in the house at the time, including five children, were able to leave uninjured due to the working smoke alarms. 

"It was obviously quite a rapidly going fire and the smoke alarms alerted the occupants to the fire so they managed to escape." 

However, the property is "significantly damaged." "It's uninhabitable so I imagine it will be a reconstruction of the property," he said.

"It is a reminder that if you're not using appliances and if you can unplug them from the power source not just use the standby button." 

He also stressed the importance of smoke alarms in houses.

The house is owned by Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities (formerly Housing New Zealand).  FENZ and Kāinga Ora have a partnership where they install smoke alarms in all their homes or flats - one in each bedroom, the living areas, hallway and attached garages for the safety of their residents.

"We stress that people have working smoke alarms as it allows early alerting to the fire so the occupants in the house are able to escape."

Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities Hawke’s Bay Area Manager Andrew Cairns confirmed the property was one of theirs. 

"Very quickly after the fire, our team met with the tenant at the house and we’re keeping in close contact to provide any support the family needs at this time. This includes investigating other potential housing options that may be needed while damage to the property is assessed. We also note whānau are helping support the family too.

"As with any fire of this nature, we are working with Fire and Emergency New Zealand and Police who are leading the investigation."

Mary Brophy, who lives behind the house, said she was alerted to the fire by her dogs barking.

"My dogs alerted me to the fire and all the street dogs were going nuts about 6.15am," she said.  By the time she rang 111, a number of other people had already, and firefighters were on their way.

She was relieved the occupants, believed to be a mother and her young children, managed to escape the property unharmed. 

"Nobody was hurt, but the house went up in less than 10 minutes.

"The roof is just completely gutted even the iron is burnt and it's all black and burnt inside."

Brophy said she is thankful there was no wind at the time of the fire. "If there was wind coming my way everything would have went so we were all really luky that there was no wind and everyone got out alive." 

She said the occupant's car that was parked beside the house remained unscathed.