Teen girl confirmed killed in Burnham blaze

One person died and three were injured after a fire at a housing block at Burnham military camp...
One person died and three were injured after a fire at a housing block at Burnham military camp in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Photo: RNZ

The person who died in a fire at a residential address at Burnham Military Camp early yesterday was a 16-year-old girl, police have confirmed.

Detective Sergeant Brent Menzies made the announcement this afternoon, saying that formal identification procedures were still ongoing.

He said police and Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fenz) investigators had completed a scene examination, and at this stage they did not believe the fire to be suspicious.

"This is obviously a huge tragedy for the young woman’s family and we are working, along with Victim Support, to support them as best we can at this difficult time," Sgt Menzies said.

Further details would be released in coming days.

Three other people were taken to Christchurch Hospital following the fire. Two have since been released and one remains in a moderate but stable condition.

The death has been referred to the Coroner.

Nearest fire station unmanned

The fire station closest to the blaze was unmanned when it broke out, just after 2am yesterday.

The New Zealand Defence Force confirmed the Burnham Military Fire Station was not staffed at the time of the fire, meaning the first station that was able to attend was from Rolleston, at 2.23am, 11 minutes after it received the call to attend.

The Burnham Military Camp fire master arrived on the scene at 2.40am, in a Command vehicle which has no fire suppression capability, it said.

The Defence Force said the military station had been operating at reduced capacity since January this year.

"This is in part due to the need to provide staff respite, and because of low Emergency Responder staffing levels," a spokesperson said.

"As such, personnel provide coverage between 8am and 4.30pm, Monday through Friday."

The decision to operate on reduced coverage was consulted on, and supported by Fire and Emergency area commanders, the Defence Force said.

It said the Memorandum of Understanding between the Defence Force and FENZ ensured that FENZ provided coverage during periods of reduced Defence Force coverage.

"The Burnham Emergency Response Troop maintains the capacity to support a local FENZ response to major events and/or emergencies for discrete periods, such as during the response to the Port Hills fires earlier this year. That response was supported by two NZDF Rural Fire Appliances, and up to six fire-fighters rotating on a daily basis," it said.

The Defence Force has warned the government it is in a dire state, describing it as vulnerable, and the Navy as extremely fragile.

 - additional reporting ODT Online