Rotorua house 'inferno' destroys 80-year-old's home of 50 years

Lisa Cameron

The inferno that razed Bernie Hornfeck's home of 50 years was captured by neighbour Lisa Cameron.

It was described as an 'inferno', and in just minutes it robbed Bernie Hornfeck​ of his home of 50 years. 

The house, in the Rotorua suburb of Lynmore, caught fire sometime around 1am on Tuesday morning. 

The 89-year-old - speaking outside his ruined home wearing clothes donated by a neighbour - said he was unsure as to the cause of the fire, but knew he had had a lucky escape.

The back of the fire ravaged house.
BENN BATHGATE/FAIRFAX NZ

The back of the fire ravaged house.

"The only fire was my stove," he said.

"I was sleeping in the living room at the time. I knew straight away there was a fire due to the smoke. Within a few minutes the whole place went up."

Hornfeck, a well known community activist and gardener around Rotorua, had lost everything, even his hearing aids.

The fire, described as an 'inferno', left the property gutted.
BENN BATHGATE/FAIRFAX NZ

The fire, described as an 'inferno', left the property gutted.

He remained stoic about the loss of the home he built himself in 1967, however. 

"It's a bit of a mess, but we can build another."

He also had words of praise for the neighbours who have rushed to offer assistance.

Neighbour Lisa Cameron took this photo of the blaze.
Supplied

Neighbour Lisa Cameron took this photo of the blaze.

"They've been marvellous, helping me out, bringing me clothes."

Ad Feedback

One neighbour, who wished to remain anonymous, described the scene she saw in the early hours of the morning.

"It just woke me up and I thought someone was having a party, firecrackers. Then when I looked out the whole place was an inferno."

Fire crews were called to the fire at 1.20am on Tuesday (file photo).
MARK TAYLOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Fire crews were called to the fire at 1.20am on Tuesday (file photo).

The neighbour said that due to the ferocity of the blaze, they believed Hornfeck was lucky to be alive.

"If he's been at the back of the house it would have been a different story. We could be having a vert different conversation."

Fellow neighbour Lisa Cameron said she was woken by Hornfeck banging on her door, and she described the scene she saw when she stepped outside her house.

"[I saw Bernie] standing out there barefoot, staring in total shock."

She said the fire was so large she feared for her house, and loaded her pets into the car in case they needed to flee.

"I thought our house is going to get it too," she said.

"It was very loud, really scary and you could see canisters. . . the stuff was coming out like rockets," she said.

"Everyone wants to put him up, but he's just happy to be alive."

Fire crews remained at the scene of the blaze on Tuesday morning hours after the two storey property on Iles Rd caught fire.

They had been there since the fire service received multiple calls to the blaze at 1.20am, Northern Fire Communications shift manager Megan Ruru said. 

A second alarm was raised calling for extra fire crews, she said. 

When the first fire truck arrived, the house was engulfed in flames. 

Everyone was out of the property and accounted for, Ruru said. 

"They are continuing to dampen down any hotspots and provide scene protection as there is potential for a building collapse."

A fire investigator had been requested to look into the currently unknown cause of the blaze. 

 

 

 

 - Stuff

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Jean Allen: Why vote?

"We are lucky we can make a choice, and because of this, I am going to vote," Jean Allen says.

OPINION: The national election is less than 40 days away, and the race is on among the parties and their candidates.

Housing chief fear in Northcote

North Shore ward councillor Chris Darby said people can't live in consents.

"No one can afford a $650,000, so why is it affordable? Massey University professor asks.

Sport: Stephen Donald raring to go

Open side flanker Fotu Lokotui scores his first try in Steelers colours. 22-mkc-lokotui01

Stephen Donald pronounced fit for Waikato.

Bennett rules out legalising marijuana

Police Minister Paula Bennett says the the crackdown on synthetic drugs was one of her top priorities.

Upper Harbour MP Paula Bennett says loosening cannabis regulations is not on the cards to tackle the rising tide of cheap, synthetics drugs.

Wellington

Wainui to be Wellington's Mayfair?

The bucket fountain on Cuba St.

Voting for capital version of famous board game throws up unexpected suggestions.

Brothers' $2.4m fight

Robert Burnside, son of Jim, has been involved in a court fight with his brother Alec.

Judge tells sons of wealthy Hawke's Bay businessman to stop the "unreasonable mutual suspicion" and infighting.

They're taking the P

Kapiti Mayor K Gurunathan says there are better ways of raising awareness about methamphetamine abuse than altering ...

Dozens of Kapiti road signs have lost the letter P - and some people are not amused.

TAB robbery arrest

07012016 News Photo: Maarten Holl
file photos - generic police photos - shot in Naenae, Wellington

Police arrest 36-year-old man after two robberies, including one at Petone TAB.

Canterbury

Canty house pops up in field

Hillcrest, a 140-year-old colonial villa from Marshlands, Christchurch has come to rest in the middle of a field near ...

Out to pasture: No longer wanted, 140-year-old homestead sold and popped in a field.

$280k elderly scam

At least 30 elderly women have been scammed out of a total of $280,000 by a group of scammers, including Brendon Karl ...

22-year-old Christchurch man admits using a phone scam to con at least 30 elderly woman living alone.

Labour's promise a win for Canty?

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern pledged an extra $30m towards boosting mental health support for Canterby at Christchurch's ...

ANALYSIS: Is the vow to boost mental health support for our most pressing need? Is it feasible?

Incident at Dunedin hospital

Four people have been injured after an incident at Wakari Hospital in Dunedin on Tuesday morning.

Four people were taken to Dunedin Hospital after the Wakari Hospital incident.

Waikato

Staff's last resort

The front glass doors of the BP in Horotiu were smashed by four robbers armed with a metal bar.

Petrol station staff resort to parking car in front of doors to stop ram raiders.

River crash victim dies

Rescuers extract the two people from the car towing a trailer that plunged into the Waikato River at Cambridge on ...

The 60-year-old woman died in Waikato Hospital on Monday afternoon.

Rail promise for Hamilton

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern announces her plan to create a commuter railway connection between Auckland, Hamilton and ...

Billions of dollars' worth of roads will not help ease congestion - but rail will, Labour says. 

Tuheitia reaffirms Māori Party

Waikato Tainui Kīngi Tuheitia Pootatau Te Wherowhero Vll at the 11th annual Koroneihana, celebrating his ascension to ...

Māori King Tuheitia also dismissed Māori TV in an address at Tūrangawaewae​ Marae.

Taranaki

Tapping into Taranaki history

Rob Green, of Heritage Taranaki, has been part of a group which has developed a free app exploring the history of the ...

Modern technology being used to transport people back to the battlefields of Taranaki's civil war.

From office to garden

Amanda Kendrick swapped her 9-5 job for a lawn full of produce.

She traded her 9 to 5 job for a slice of the good life. 

School slowing down

Stratford Primary School Principal Jason Elder and school patrol member Noah West-Adam, 12, are hoping the Stratford ...

One car was clocked at 120kmh outside the Stratford Primary School.

Energyworks buyback

Energyworks Engineering in Bell Block, formerly Inglewood Engineering, will focus more on gas as oil prices remain low.

It was a Taranaki-owned company once and Energyworks is a Taranaki-owned company again.

Manawatu

Restaurants to fire up

20082017 news photo DAVID UNWIN/STUFF
Godreys BBQ and Grill is set to open in a month. General Manager David Adsett has ...

One is traditional American barbecue, the other South African Braai. Both come from a deep love of food.

River works urgent

Erosion at the Ashhurst Domain is made worse by flooding in May.

Agreements are being sought for the protection of the Ashhurst Domain.

Rare brain condition crippling video

Elijah North has microcephaly, which means his brain does not grow as well as it should.

But parents of 2-year-old aren't giving up hope and have turned to Australia for treatment.

New meetings provide change

A chief executive relationship committee restricts chief executive David Clapperton and mayor Michael Feyen's ...

Horowhenua councillors say group formed to monitor communication between chief executive and the council was needed.

Nelson

Food cart back in business

Food truck owner Karen Gonzalez, left, serves Priyanthi Bojaraj in November before she was forced to close her business ...

A food cart has reopened on the alternate highway after four months in limbo.

The missing Link

Nick Smith said he's hopeful Nelson's Southern Link could be included in an upcoming regional transport announcement.

The Southern Link has not been included on the govt's 'national significance' list.

Sabotage at the sanctuary

A section of the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary fence that was cut out over the weekend ahead of a poison drop.

Holes were cut in a Nelson bird sanctuary fence, locks glued and trees felled ahead of poison drop.

Forestry fail: Bach destroyed

The felled tree trunk pierces into the living room.

Miracle no-one home as felled tree writes off Nelson family's much-loved bach.

Marlborough

Fresh approach?

Labour has printed another 5000 signs to replace the ones featuring former leader Andrew Little.

Come on Labour, let's do this. Campaign signs still selling the old "approach" in Marlborough.

Log spears family bach

The felled tree trunk pierces into the living room.

Family demands answers after felled tree destroys Marlborough Sounds bach.

Food cart back in business

Food truck owner Karen Gonzalez, left, serves Priyanthi Bojaraj in November before she was forced to close her business ...

NZTA put $10,000 towards making the lay-by safer for drivers pulling over.

Back in the race

Marlborough Racing Club president Eric Bowers has previously opposed the sale of Waterlea Racecourse land. (File photo)

Hold your horses! All bets back on after ministry U-turn on campus site.

South Canterbury

Man's car found in canal

Missing Twizel man David Fountain.

A police dive team has found missing man David Fountain's car in a canal near Twizel.

Food course launched

The new food processing course would begin at Ara Institute of Canterbury next year.

New qualification to prepare students for life in the food processing sector launched.

Rare kaki released into wild

51 kaki will be released in the Mackenzie Basin on Tuesday.

Fifty one of the world's rarest wading bird are being released in the Mackenzie Basin.

Council silent on burner comments

Woodburner.

Council has no public position on candidate's advice to halt consent applications.

Otago

Incident at Dunedin hospital

Four people have been injured after an incident at Wakari Hospital in Dunedin on Tuesday morning.

Four people were taken to Dunedin Hospital after the Wakari Hospital incident.

Balclutha Santa parade paid for by pokies

The Problem Gaming Foundation of New Zealand is urging councils not to use pokie machine funding.

Pokie funding to pay for Balclutha Santa Parade to continue.

From The News Desk: My pokie funding dilemma.

Clutha Leader reporter Mary-Jo Tohill.

From The News Desk: My pokie funding dilemma.

Winter Games NZ opens Friday

US ski racer David Chodounsky will compete in a night dual slalom at the opening of the Winter Games on Friday.

15-year-old Queenstown ski racer Alice Robinson will be one to watch.

Southland

Polyfest hits new heights video

Members of the Otatara Kindy on stage at Polyfest 2017

''They like the sense of whanau, they feel like they are a part of something."

Hospitality at the heart of the south

Ronald McDonald Family Room supervisor Helen Walker and volunteer Susan Stenton at the Ronald McDonald House ...

Southland's inaugural Purple Work Shirt Day is raising funds for Ronald McDonald House.

'Stubbornness' gets Grieve home

Dwight Grieve from Fiordland leads Jack McNaughton and Buddy Small in the early stages of the Southland championships in ...

Stubbornness and a want to succeed have helped Dwight Grieve claim the Southland Road Championship title in Te Anau on Saturday.

Quick thinking prevents injury

Fire crews attend a house fire on Dipton street, Invercargill, on Sunday afternoon.

An Invercargill family had a close shave following a house fire in Kingswell.

Ad Feedback