A six-year-old girl who died yesterday in an Auckland house fire has been named by the fire service as Anaseini Ma’asi.
She was unable to be rescued from the fire, believed to have been started by her three-year-old brother playing with matches, after the blaze overwhelmed the second floor of the family’s home in Onehunga.
The three-year-old was rescued from the home after his 12-year-old brother was alerted to the fire by a smoke alarm.
"He was downstairs and he heard the smoke alarm going off upstairs, he went up to investigate. He has seen smoke and fire and got his younger brother and took him downstairs.
"Then he went to go back up to put the fire out. But neither he nor his mother could make his way up due to the conditions," said Senior Fire Investigator, Mike McEnaney.
The fire was first reported at 4.40pm on Monday.
When the fire service arrived they immediately searched the second storey where the blaze was already "well involved" after the mother told them one child was unaccounted for.
"The first actions were to commence a search of the upper floor and they found her almost straight away," said McEnaney.
The attending fire crew and then an ambulance team performed CPR on the child, but attempts to revive her were unsuccessful.
An aunt of the girl posted a photo of her on Instagram, saying "rest in peace to my neice Anaseini Ma'asi".
It is thought to be the first child fatality in a house fire since 2010. Since then children have been responsible for starting more than 200 house fires.
The death is a lesson in the dangers of matches and lighters in the hands of young children and the importance of smoke alarms, the fire service said.
"Every year we get scores of fires started by children under the age of five playing with lighters or matches. The real message is for adults, consider what you are doing with your lighters, consider where you place your matches," said National Manager Fire Investigation and Arson, Peter Wilding.
Anaseini was described as a "girly girl" to TV3 news.
"She was so beautiful, she was a lovely girl," neighbour Lupe Vai told TV3.
The two-storey unit was left severely damaged by the blaze, according to a witness.
"The windows are all burnt out, it looks like there was quite an inferno upstairs," said Tom Hamilton, whose daughter Teresa lives in a neighbouring unit.
His daughter saw the child pulled from the burning building and the failed attempts to save her.
"It’s a bit of a sad situation, she is pretty upset about it," Hamilton said.
The children in the complex would often play together, he said.
"The little girl was playing with my grandson on the weekend. I don’t know how all the kids up there are going to get on now, now one of them is gone," Hamilton said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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