Neighbours were driven back by flames and smoke as they desperately tried to help a man heard screaming before he died inside a blazing Titahi Bay house.
But their efforts yesterday to save 57-year-old Kamira Rangimoeakau, known as Kam Rangi, were in vain as firefighters discovered him dead in the gutted house after battling the blaze for an hour.
Kayla Kirby said she heard screams as she raced next door to 59 Dimock St shortly before 1am.
She said she was lying in bed watching a movie when she heard a bang and initially thought her mother-in-law had fallen out of bed.
"As I came down the hallway, I saw orange light in the backyard . . . and then saw fire spitting out the back of the [neighbour's] house."
She rang 111 and ran next door.
"When I got to the front door, I heard screaming and I kept yelling for about 10 minutes to try and figure out where he was.
"Then the smoke got the better of me and I had to back off and then the flames got to the front door," said Kirby, who had to be taken to hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation.
Another neighbour, Janine Rao, said the two-storey house was engulfed in flames when she and her husband Edwin rushed outside.
"It was completely raging in fire. You could see the inside completely burning and all we were doing was screaming out for somebody to help as we were waiting for the fire engine to get here.
"My husband checked around the house to see if he could find a way in. He and another man were at the window looking to see if they could get in, but it was too dangerous."
She did not know her neighbour well but said he was a quiet man who lived alone and kept to himself.
Grieving relatives of the dead man arrived at the scene yesterday from around the country as police and fire investigators were working at the scene.
The victim's sister, who lives just a few streets away, said she was organising a karakia and did not wish to comment further.
Police conducted a scene examination and Detective Senior Sergeant John van den Heuvel said although the fire was not considered suspicious it was too early to comment on the cause. More information would be revealed following an autopsy today, he said.
- The Dominion Post
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