Family loses everything in fire
A young couple's wedding celebration came to an abrupt end when their venue was destroyed by flames.
Ashnil Nandan and his bride, Ashnan, both 23, were to wed at his parents' home in Walden Place, Mangere, South Auckland, today.
About 20 family members, including young children, were preparing for the wedding in a large tent at the back of the property when something inside the house caught alight, brother Nilesh said.
"We saw the spark going like a gunshot," he said. "The smoke and the fire kept going on ... We just tried to save ourselves first."
The flames reduced the home to an empty shell and spread to the house next door before being brought under control by the fire service.
No-one was injured, although a middle-aged woman collapsed outside and required oxygen.
Papatoetoe fire station officer Alex Betteridge said the flames were raging when his crew showed up.
"The house was totally involved with fire," Betteridge said.
"There were flames coming out of every window in the house.
"If it had been another five or 10 minutes the house next door would have been going too."
The flames took 16 firefighters about 15 minutes to contain, he said.
A fire safety officer was investigating, but the cause of the blaze was unknown, Betteridge said.
"It could be suspicious but it's highly unlikely."
Nilesh Nandan said the family was struggling to comprehend the events.
He had no idea how the fire began or whether his brother's wedding would be able to go ahead, he said.
"We said a wedding prayer. We'll just turn it over to God and see what happens. He will make the decision."
Family friend Raj Prasad said the family had lost everything in the blaze.
Thousands of dollars have been spent on the wedding and everything has been destroyed, he said.
"The bride's suit, the groom's suit ... It was all in there."
Prasad said he was hopeful the wedding would still go ahead at a different venue tomorrow.
Community members and friends were rallying around the family.
"We'll try and carry on and finish what we started."