3 Oct 2017

Child dies after Hastings fire

3:23 pm on 3 October 2017

A 10-year-old boy injured in a blaze in a derelict building in Hastings has died in hospital.

The building at the back of the former Storty Bar.

Police said they were treating the fire as suspicious. Photo: RNZ / Peter Fowler

He was with two other boys, aged nine and seven, in a disused workshop in the suburb of St Leonard when the fire broke out in the building in Heretaunga Street West about 2.30pm yesterday.

The second child, who has suffered burns and was in a stable condition, has been transferred to Hutt Hospital. The third child escaped harm.

The building, which for many years was a chainsaw and lawnmower repair business, is believed to have been vacant for some time.

The 10-year-old boy died early this morning.

The second child is in a stable condition. Five adults were also treated for smoke inhalation and later discharged.

Child critically injured in Hastings fire

The building was believed to have been vacant for some time. Photo: RNZ / YouTube

David Jones, who owns a Hastings mechanics shop next door, said the speed and ferocity of the blaze was phenomenal and like nothing he'd ever seen.

"I put my ear to the fence and I could hear these kids screaming - and it was serious screaming," he said.

A "massive" amount of dense black smoke was poured out of the building.

"Within two minutes the place was absolutely engulfed with smoke ... inside my workshop you couldn't see anything.

"It was just amazing, I've never seen it pick up quite that fast."

Several of his employees rushed to the children's aid when they realised what was happening.

"One of the boys who works for me, Paul, he's a volunteer fireman. So I yelled out to him straight away, I said 'Paul, you'd better go around the back of the workshop and down the driveway and have a look in that building'.

"Meanwhile my other boys ... I said, we'll get the hoses and start spraying over the fence, and all we did was keep spraying it and spraying it as long as we could."

Three children, believed to be aged seven, eight and 10 were inside when the fire broke out. Two children fled the building; one was later found and taken to hospital and the other was safe.

Paul spoke briefly after the fire, his voice shaking as he described serious burns one of the children had sustained.

Six fire engines and at least 30 officers and volunteers rushed to the scene.

Eastern region assistant fire commander Nigel Hall praised the people who rushed to help the children, though he added he would never advise people to enter a burning building.

"Those are very heroic actions and we thank them," he told Morning Report.

But he warned people who went into burning buildings "all too often" became victims themselves.

Scene examinations by fire and police teams have been completed but the investigation was still continuing.

Police have yet to speak with those involved.