Palmerston North family grieves for two lost to tragic house fire

By Aroha Treacher

Family gathered at the scene of a house fire in Palmerston North that claimed the life of two members of the same family.  The blaze began around 3am this morning in a two-storey state house and multiple fire trucks battled to put it out.

The family of those who passed away today grieved openly as they acknowledged their loved ones who had passed away.

Phillipa Rerekura says, “It hurts and it something that should never have happened.  Such a big family, a huge family.  We’d see each other in the street and say hello.”

The community here is feeling the hurt of an unfortunate tragedy.  In the early hours of the morning, more than 20 fire officers battled to put out the fire.

The house had 11 tenants when the fire started engulfing the house.  Two died in the fire, a grandmother in her 60s and her grand-daughter, only six years old.

Ross McKay says, “The impact on any family, particularly a large family in an area, is going to have hugely devastating affects.  Victim support and wrap around services are being put to the family now, both from iwi and the hospital and police victim support workers.”

Housing New Zealand has confirmed that it installed 11 working smoke alarms last year, however police were not able to confirm whether they were operational at the time of the fire.

McKay says, “The investigations haven’t got us inside the house yet, but intial reports from the family say there was a working smoke alarm.”

The police say once the bodies are removed from the house this evening and the house is deemed safe to enter, they will begin their investigation into the cause of the fire.