AUCKALAND, NZ: A nine year old girl, Katrina Harimate said she planned to celebrate her birthday with her “real” friend ‘Anaseini Ma’asi, the six year old girl who died in a house fire Monday 25, at Onehunga.
Katrina and her brother Wayne were at the scene to lay a bouquet of flowers beside ‘Anaseini’s driveway.
“I missed her…Seini is just a nice girl, we used to play here” Katrina told Kaniva News, with her young brother Wayne adding, “That’s her bike there”, pointing his figure at Anaseini’s bike which was parked by a garage.
Katrina, who turned nine on Tuesday 26 and used to bike and cycle together with ‘Anaseini, rode her bike in a driveway they shared with the house where 'Anaseini lived but was in a sombre mood.
Fire investigators said the fire started as a result of a three-year-old child playing with matches.
Katrina’s grandmother, Kathlyn said her nine year old grandaughter looked forward to celebrate her birthday with ‘Anaseini yesterday Tuesday 26.
“She did not know what had happened because she was in Papatoetoe.
“I picked her up this morning it was really hard for me to explain to her what had happened and that Anaseini has gone,” the grandmother said.
Firefighters said when the family were alerted of the fire, the children’s mother, ‘Amelia Ma’asi did not know that ‘Anaseini was having a nap in the room.
It was only when they came out of the house she realised Anaseini was not with them.
Attempts by family and neighbours to retrieve the six year old from the second storey of the house were unsuccessful as the fire grew strong and beat them back.
The fire brigade arrived and managed to remove the victim’s body from the house, but despite several attempts to revive her, she died.
Fire Service national manager of fire investigation and arson Peter Wilding said fires grow incredibly quickly and the family did not have enough time to save both of the children.
"In the time it took to remove that one little child out of that room, take them downstairs and come back to the room the fire had developed to a point they couldn't make entry again and that is the tragedy.
"Neighbours had a go but the products that are in a home nowadays – the polyurethane foams, the cushions, the linings, it generates so much smoke it's just impenetrable if you don't have the sort of equipment that firefighters have,"
He said a fire alarm in the Housing New Zealand home had given enough warning for the small child to be removed and the rest of the family to safely evacuate.
"So from that point of view it could have been a lot worse without a smoke alarm."