Ten-year-old boy dies following 'suspicious' Hastings building blaze
The 9-year-old boy injured in a fatal fire in Hastings ran to a nearby car dealership to raise the alarm, despite serious burns to his legs.
A 10-year-old boy also caught in the fire was taken to hospital in a critical condition, and later died. A third boy escaped uninjured.
Sam Huckle, who works at Bayswater Vehicles, a few doors from the site of the fire, said two boys came running into the dealership on Monday.
One left and ran towards home, while Huckle tried to help the second, putting water on his burnt legs.
"He started to say, 'My cousin's dead, my cousin's dead'," she said on Tuesday.
The boy then started to go into shock, and she comforted him as they waited for an ambulance to arrive.
The third boy did not appear to be burnt at all, but seemed panicked and ran back to his home in Camberley.
The 9-year-old was taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital and has since been transferred to the burns unit at Hutt Hospital for further treatment. He is in a stable condition.
Five men, thought to have headed into the fire to help the boys, were taken to hospital with smoke inhalation, but were treated and discharged.
David Jones, of neighbouring business David Jones Motors, said he heard screaming then a loud "whoompf" before thick black smoke began billowing out of the building.
He said it happened within seconds, and he yelled out to one of his employees, who was a volunteer firefighter.
"I yelled, 'There's kids in one of those buildings, and it's on fire', so he went around the back and we got hoses."
They used the hoses to try and keep the fire under control from their side of the fence.
Jones understood it had been roading contractors from across the street, and staff or customers from Burger King, who helped to rescue the children.
Neither contractors nor Burger King staff wanted to comment when approached.
Acting Hastings mayor Sandra Hazelhurst had been with the family at a local community centre on Tuesday afternoon. They were absolutely devastated, but everybody in the community was gathering around and supporting them, she said.
There would be support for young people in the community by way of counselling through the centre, and later in the week a gathering would be held to bring people together.
"We're doing everything we can. Supporting the family is our biggest priority at the moment."
Councillor Henare O'Keefe said he had visited the family too. A tangi was expected to be held on Friday, and the building the fire had been was blessed on Tuesday afternoon.
Police and fire investigators completed their examinations of the empty building on Monday afternoon. Police were yet to speak to the people involved, and were still working out what had happened.
He said everyone in Camberley, where the boy was from, was pulling together. There had been a steady stream of visitors through the home when he visited.
Police said they wanted to hear from anyone who witnessed unusual activity near the building before the fire.
Information should be provided to Hastings police station on 06 873 0500, or information could be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.