One dead in Wanaka fire

CHE BAKER
Last updated 12:56 21/08/2014
wanaka fire
CHE BAKER/ Fairfax NZ

FATAL FIRE: A lone police officer guards the site of a fatal house fire in Lagoon Ave in Albert Town early this morning.

Laurence Voight
CHE BAKER/Fairfax NZ
SCENE INVESTIGATION: Fire Service East Otago area commander Laurence Voight speaks to media outside the property of a fatal house fire in Wanaka early this morning. A man, sleeping in a granny flat at the back of the property, was killed in the blaze.

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A police forensics team from Christchurch will help investigate this morning's fatal fire in Wanaka and identify the man who died. 

Southern police acting detective inspector Colin Blackie said the victim had yet to be identified and that experts from Environmental Science and Research (ESR) were on their way to the scene of the early morning fire on Lagoon Ave in Albert Town.

Fire investigators from Queenstown and Dunedin had already arrived. "We are in the midst of planning our investigation," Blackie said.

Neighbours who called emergency services about a fatal fire in Wanaka this morning were woken by their dogs acting strangely.

The Fire Service was called to a fire in the Albert Town area at 4.30am. The fire was "well involved" by the time firefighters arrived and one person has been confirmed as having died at the scene, a fire service spokesman said.

Neighbour Kylie Arnesen said her dog woke her just after 4.30am and she was alerted to the fire.

Another neighbour said her dog also woke her and was acting strangely, appearing to want to go outside. However, the dog sat at the door, which was when she noticed the glow of the fire from her kitchen window.

She woke her partner who then raced to the scene to help and alerted emergency services.

The man, who has been reported as being 53 years old, had been sleeping in a granny flat behind a front property.

The neighbour said she believed the man, who lived in the granny flat, had been in a wheelchair.

Fire Service East Otago area commander Laurence Voight said police were trying to contact the man's relatives, believed to be in the North Island.

The man had been found in a bedroom of the modern granny flat, Voight said.

While the house at the front of the property had been untouched, the flat had been gutted by the fire, he said.

The man's body will remain at the scene until fire investigators have completed an initial examination.

Fatal fires in the area were not common, Voight said. ''It's a very sad event,'' he said.

The resident of the front house declined to talk to media when contacted this morning.

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- The Southland Times

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