Hot oil sparks Mangakino house fire leaving residents with nothing
One moment he was looking forward to some deep-fried chips.
The next he was outside watching flames consume the family home and everything inside.
"The house was completely gone - they have their clothes on their backs and that's about it," Mangakino Fire Chief Craig Snowball said.
The three-bedroom, 90-square-metre rental in Kahu Street was gutted in the blaze on Wednesday evening.
Around 6.30pm, Euan Mackey put oil on the stove to heat up for cooking chips.
Alone in the house at the time, he left the pot unattended for two minutes, he said. The fire took hold "faster than what you see on TV".
"It looked like it was alive."
"He panicked," Snowball said. "He got out and tried to raise the neighbours and some of them shot back there.
"He grabbed the hose and went back in, but by then, it was too far gone."
By the time the first of three fire crews arrived, half the house was ablaze, Snowball said.
"There were flames lapping out of the back of the house, out the side windows, pretty much the whole house was smoke-logged and damaged.
"It was a little Mango house and it doesn't take long for them to go."
About a dozen firefighters used low-pressure hoses to extinguish the blaze.
With back-up from Tokoroa and Taupo, Snowball said crews entered the house to douse the remainder of the fire.
Mackey's partner, Ebony Forde, was at dance practice in Whakamaru at the time, while their four-year-old child was at a relative's.
One of the people at practice told her not to panic, but her house was on fire.
"We still have our jobs and our family," Forde said. "We are slowly going to rebuild and start from scratch."
"Thanks to everyone for the support."
The family were uninsured.
A fire safety investigator was called and attended the blaze, confirming it was an accidental blaze that started in the pot of oil in the kitchen.
Fire crews left the scene at 9.45pm.