Neighbours were woken by the sound of an "explosion" during a
house fire that killed an elderly man in Wainuiomata early
Firefighters were called to the blaze at a flat in Burden
Avenue about 2am.
Once extinguished, crews searched the home and found the
deceased man, who was believed to be the sole occupant.
The flat, one in a complex of six, was damaged extensively,
Neighbour Munny Groenewegen, 79, said she and her 91
year-old-husband were woken by an explosion.
"We had to leave, because it was so big, all of a sudden."
Initially she thought the explosion had come from her own
house, because it was so loud.
"When I looked outside of my window and saw the big flames, I
knew that we had to get out."
She and her husband were evacuated by a neighbour, and were
kept in a police car to keep warm while their son arrived.
Police are yet to name the deceased man, and neighbours say
he lived alone.
Ms Groenewegen said he was "friendly" and quite active, often
seen on walks or playing his organ.
"He was quite nice, we used to talk over the fence when he
was sitting in the garden."
She suspected the explosion may have been caused by a small
gas heater the man owned.
Police communications manager Nick Bohm said police
investigators have been unable to access the site due to
unsafe conditions, and fire crews were still dousing the
Mr Bohm said it may take some time to identify the man, but
police were working to contact next of kin who may be
- By Mohamed Hassan