Person dies in east Auckland house fire

The two-storey house was well alight when emergency services arrived at the scene. Photo supplied Mike Rowse

One person has died and two others were injured when an east Auckland house went up in flames on Tuesday night.

Emergency services responded to the blaze, which broke out at a two-storey timber property in Minerva Terrace, Cockle Bay, just before 7pm.

Police confirmed on Tuesday night that one person died following the fire and two others were taken to Middlemore Hospital by St John ambulance paramedics.

Counties Manukau Police East acting detective senior sergeant Craig Bolton said on Wednesday morning police are continuing to work with Fire and Emergency investigators following the incident.

“Police will now work to confirm the identity of the person who died as a result of the fire and inform their next of kin.”

Police could not comment further at this stage, Bolton said.

Neighbour Mike Rowse was home watching television with his wife and son when they heard the fire break out next door.

Rowse, who runs local community radio station East FM, says his family “heard some popping going off” and initially thought it was fireworks.

Fire investigators work at the scene of a fatal blaze that broke out at a house in Minerva Terrace, Cockle Bay, on Tuesday night. Times photo Wayne Martin

“Then we heard our landlord upstairs yelling and my wife said, ‘Did he just say the house is on fire?’

“We opened up the front door and looked across and could see flames and the smoke drifting out across [the property].”

Rowse phoned 111 while his wife and son ran up their driveway to see what was happening next door.

He then heard fire appliances arriving at the scene.

“I could see [at the neighbouring property] a fella running around.

“He just had shorts on and was running up the back steps and he was yelling.

“Then I heard my wife say, ‘Get out of the house, get out of the house’, and I then heard him say there’s someone inside. She said, ‘Get out!’

“My wife said he was apparently trying to get a blanket over his head to go back into the house.

“By that time I had got off the phone and came back down to put some shoes on in case I had to hop the fence and go and lend a hand.

“I saw another guy who was fully clothed. He ran around the side of the house and was looking pretty panicked.

“Then the fire service arrived and started getting into their work and putting the fire out.

“Once they had a hose on it, it died down pretty quickly.”

The property was badly damaged by the fire. Times photo Wayne Martin

Rowse walked up his driveway during the incident and says he saw six or seven police cars, four fire appliances, and three ambulances in Minerva Terrace.

“They had blocked off the street from roundabout to roundabout.”

He says he later saw the man wearing shorts standing outside the house with his hands on his head and being given a bowl of water.

Rowse says he hadn’t spoken to the people living at the property next door before but often heard them playing music.

He estimates they’re aged in their 20s.

“They had only been there about a year and the only time I ever saw them was when they were mowing the lawn.

“I figured they work from home and they just like loud music.”
Rowse says he’s “shocked and surprised” to learn someone perished in the fire.

A karakia was due to be performed at the scene by a local kaumatua on Wednesday morning, police said.