Death in sleepout blaze 'a shock'

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 05:00 27/01/2014

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A father-of-three who died in a fire in a North Canterbury sleepout was an "all-round good guy" from a tight-knit seaside community.

The 45-year-old man, Myles Kirkwood, was found dead yesterday about 9am after a neighbour on Kowhai St at Leithfield Beach saw smoke and called emergency services.

Detective Sergeant Mark Worner said firefighters found the man dead on a bed in a sleepout attached to a garage on his property.

The cause was not yet known, but police and fire investigators believed an electrical appliance could have been involved, he said.

A pathologist had visited the scene and would have results of an autopsy today.

"We're looking for no-one else in relation to this incident," said Worner.

The earthquake-damaged home was in the process of being repaired, so no-one else was home at the time.

"The family are all away and he has obviously come back for work," Worner said.

One elderly neighbour said: "It's very tragic. As far as I knew no-one lives [in the sleepout], it's only for storage."

The death had shaken the tight-knit community, he said.

A group of friends were gathered to talk about a man they described as "a truly lovely guy who would do anything to help anyone".

As a builder by trade, Kirkwood helped many locals, schools and sports clubs with odd jobs.

"He was a chilled-out, laid-back, good sort who loved his kids. He was just an all-round good guy."

He had an older daughter, as well as two young children to his current wife.

One woman said she thought no-one was home until she saw the family's dog get out of the backyard the day before.

"They have been living here as long as I can remember."

Ryan Glanville, 16, said he was woken by fire engine sirens and ran out to see the fire being doused across the road.

"It's quite depressing that this has happened."

Another resident, who would only be known as Dave, saw smoke coming out from behind the garage. He didn't know the owners of the place since he had only lived there a year. But it was a shock.

"Everybody is upset."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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