Man fighting for life after fatal house fire

8:42 pm on 22 December 2016

Family and friends have gathered at the bedside of a man who is fighting for his life after a house fire that killed three of his family members in Auckland.

The scene of the fatal fire in Flatbush in Auckland, which claimed three lives.

The home, in a new subdivision in Flat Bush in south-east Auckand, was gutted by the blaze. Photo: RNZ / Joanna Mackenzie

Police said two women, aged 66 and 39, and a five-year-old boy were killed in the fire in the suburb of Flat Bush.

Kailesh Thanabalasingham

Kailesh Thanabalasingham Photo: Facebook / NZ Sri Lanka Forced Migrants' Support Group

A 47-year-old man, Kailesh Thanabalasingham, is in a critical condition in hospital, while an 11-year-old girl and an older man are in a stable condition.

Refugee Council president Arif Saeid said Mr Thanabalasingham was a council member.

His family and friends had gathered at Middlemore Hospital, Mr Saeid said.

Deborah Manning, who had been at the hospital, said her friend and colleague was a very much loved member of the Sri Lankan community.

"He's a tireless advocate of people's rights, and is just one of those people that works behind the scenes. He's very principled. He will never back down from what he believes is right but is also very wise with that and very personable, with a great sense of humour."

Mr Thanabalasingham had been in surgery all day, she said.

"We haven't been able to speak with him yet. We're hoping to be able to see him this evening, but obviously he's very unwell."

The 11-year-old that survived was Mr Thanabalasingham's daughter, and the older man was his father-in-law, she said.

His son, wife and mother-in-law were killed in the fire.

Another family friend, Sivaram Anandasivam, said the surviving child was beside herself with grief after waking up in hospital to find out her brother, mother and grandmother were dead.

Mr Anandasivam said relatives were travelling to New Zealand from Canada.

House fire 'unexplained'

The Fire Service is investigating the cause of the blaze, which started about 3.30am, at the property in a new subdivision on Plantation Avenue.

Police said they were treating it as "unexplained".

Emergency services at the cordon on Plantation Avenue.

Emergency services at the cordon on Plantation Avenue. Photo: RNZ / Joanna MacKenzie

Twenty firefighters fought the fire in the two-storey house.

RNZ's reporter at the scene said the house had been gutted. Smoke marks were visible on the outside and one room was a "blackened mess", she said.

Fire Service assistant area commander Graeme Quensell said it was a tragic incident, and his thoughts were with the family and friends of the victims.

Mr Quensell told Morning Report the house would be treated as a crime scene. "As soon as there's a fatality it becomes a crime scene."

He said the house was "totally involved" in fire when crews arrived.

Detective Inspector Gary Lendrum said police would be working with the Fire Service as they investigated the cause of the blaze.

A cordon was put up and only residents were being allowed to go into and out of the street.

The fire broke out in a two-storey house in Flat Bush, south Auckland.

The fire broke out in a two-storey house in Flat Bush, Auckland Photo: Google Maps