6 Aug 2015

Waimate fire survivor describes escape

6:25 pm on 6 August 2015

A young woman whose parents and brother died in a house fire in Waimate yesterday says she woke to a noise like a strong wind banging at the bedroom door, and found the house had been overtaken by flames.

Grandparents Kaladhar and Tulsi Kafle, Manisha (17), Mamata (11) and Tulsi (24).

Grandparents Kaladhar and Tulsi Kafle with Manisha (17), Mamata (11) and Tulsi (24). Photo: RNZ / Rachel Graham

Tej Narayan Kafle, 48, his wife Tika, 39, and their eight-year-old son Prem were killed in the fire in their home, which was above the family's restaurant.

The family's three daughters - 24-year-old Tulsi, Manisha, 17, and 11-year-old Mamata - escaped by climbing onto a veranda, after Tulsi smashed a window.

They are now staying with their uncle and grandparents in Christchurch.

Tika, Pram and Tej Kafle.

Tika, Prem and Tej Kafle Photo: Facebook

Tulsi Kafle told Radio New Zealand she woke at about 7.30am to the noise, which she initially thought was an earthquake.

"I opened the door a little and it was a big fire going through the passage. I just closed the door and shouted loudly to Mum and Dad, but they didn't answer me."

After she and her sisters got onto the veranda roof, she tried to call her father's mobile but couldn't reach him, and then called 111.

She said her younger sister Mamata shouted for help and three people came and helped them down from the roof.

She said she felt very unlucky that she could not save her parents or her brother, and that she did not know what the future would hold.

"My mother used to look after us," Tulsi said. "I don't even know what size clothes or shoes I wear, my mother did everything. Now I need to look after my sisters, but I have no idea."

Tulsi injured her hand when she smashed the window, with a relative describing the injury as leaving her with her finger almost ripped in half. She said she did need some stitches, but that her hand was okay.

The sisters' uncle, Bishnu Kafle, said it was not yet clear if the sisters would be able to get any possessions back from the house.

He told Morning Report yesterday that the tragedy had struck just six months after he and his parents had arrived in New Zealand from Nepal.

A Waimate resident paying tribute to the  Kafle family outside their restaurant, Everest Indian Restaurant.

A Waimate resident pays tribute to the family outside their restaurant. Photo: RNZ / Sally Murphy

Waimate residents paying tribute to the Kafle family outside their restaurant.

Photo: RNZ / Sally Murphy

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