Coroner reports

The death of an Ethiopian woman in an Auckland house fire has prompted a coroner to recommend a new alarm system for immigrants who use fire or incense in the home.

Meme Tsige Woldeysus, who died in December 2011, was believed to have held coffee ceremonies at her house in Waterview, and may have disconnected the smoke alarms to do so.

She died two weeks after moving into the Housing New Zealand property with her 5-year-old son.

A report from Coroner Katharine Grieg says Ms Woldeysus, a recent immigrant to New Zealand, was alone in the house at the time.

When the fire was extinguished, Ms Woldeysus was found dead. An autopsy found she died of smoke inhalation.

There were no working smoke alarms in the property. One was disabled and another was placed in a cupboard.

Ms Greig says there was evidence Ms Woldeysus held Ethiopian coffee ceremonies that involved roasting beans over hot coals in a brazier and the use of incense and this could explain why the smoke alarms were tampered with.

Auckland City Harbour News