Police have confirmed a fatal house fire in Spreydon last night was not suspicious.
A woman, believed to have been in her 80s, died in a council flat after it became engulfed in flames late on Thursday evening.
Detective Sergeant Mark Keane said that after initial analysis of the scene, the fire did not appear to be suspicious and there was "no sign of foul play".
However, he said it was too early to comment on the cause of the fire, which was being investigated by police and the fire service.
Police, confirmed the woman's body found inside the home was its only resident but would not release her name until
a formal identification had been completed.
A post-mortem examination was scheduled to be carried out on Monday.
The scene examination at the Clent Lane property was expected to be completed this afternoon.
Neighbour raced to help but could not save elderly woman
A Spreydon resident bashed open the door of a burning flat in an attempt to save her elderly neighbour, only to find it was too late.
The Clent Ln resident, who wanted to be known only as Helen, said she woke last night to the sound of voices before realising her neighbour's unit was "engulfed" in flames.
"My first thought was there's a fight going on. I went out and looked around the corner,'' she said.
''I thought, 'There's a new light display', and then realised it was a fire."
Helen said her instincts then took over.
"I don't even know what I was thinking. I just didn't think,'' she said.
''I started pounding on the doors. I think it was adrenaline. The double doors just flew open."
The fire began to intensify and windows exploded, she said.
She found her neighbour on the lounge floor surrounded by flames, but it was too late to save her.
Helen said her neighbour, who had lived in the complex for more than 14 years, was a quiet, friendly woman who always had a smile.
"Everybody knew her. Nobody is a stranger here. She was a beautiful old lady who loved to walk,'' she said.
''She would walk to Westfield [Riccarton] with her walking stick, but she'd been having some trouble walking. Her family would come and take her shopping."
It is understood the woman had been ill recently.
However, just yesterday she had walked down the lane saying "What a beautiful day", Helen said.
She said residents believed their neighbour, who was quite deaf, may not have heard the smoke alarm, which they say went off.
She said the ambulance made it down the lane but the fire engines could not fit because of parked vehicles.
"The Fire Service were running down pounding on doors waking people up to move their cars," she said.
Helen was told the garden in the lane was likely to be removed as a result to make it more accessible for emergency services.
Fire was 'unsurvivable'
Fire Service assistant area commander Dave Berry said it was understood the woman was in her 80s.
Fire crews were called to the property in Clent Ln about 10.30pm to find the unit well alight.
The blaze, which was described as "unsurvivable", was put out within minutes, but fire crews remained at the scene for about four hours.
The unit was part of a block of four, but the neighbouring flats were protected from the spread of fire by fire walls, Berry said.
A fire-safety officer was examining the scene today to determine the cause of the fire, he said.
Detective Sergeant Craig Farrant confirmed a body was found inside the home but police could not comment on the victim's identity.
A St John spokesman said several people were treated at the scene, but no-one was taken to hospital.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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