Alicia Hau [red jumper] with her son Macardi [left, who raised the alarm], and nephews Kerrin and Thomas. The family lost all their possessions in the fire. Photo / Rachel Ward
A faulty doughnut-making machine is believed to have sparked a fire that destroyed the home of a Northland family of five while they were sleeping.
Mum Alicia Hau, her teenage son, two teenage nephews, and 20-year-old niece lost everything in the blaze which started in the kitchen of their Chester Ave house in Onerahi early on Saturday morning.
Hau said she is “still trying to comprehend” what’s happened.
What makes matters worse is that she cancelled her contents insurance in December, as finances got tight and she thought she and her family would soon be relocated to another Kāinga Ora property.
“Everything is gone,” Hau said.
“I’m pretty gutted but the main thing is everyone is alive.
“Everything else is replaceable.”
Fire and Emergency New Zealand shift manger Josh Pennefather said “multiple calls” were received from neighbours about the fire at around 4am.
The house was “well involved” by the time four fire crews – three from Whangārei and one from Onerahi – got to the address.
It took more than two hours to put out the blaze, which is being investigated, Pennefather said.
Hau said the fire investigator at the scene believed the cause was an electrical fault sparked by the doughnut-maker.
“The kids made doughnuts on Friday night, turned it off and left it on the bench still plugged in but turned off.
“Everyone was sleeping, then my son woke up in the sitting room to the fire in the kitchen.
“By the time he’d gone through the four rooms and woke everyone up to get everyone out, the house was pretty much gone.”
Hau said her 16-year-old son “did all the right things”, including shutting the door of each room as he cleared family members out of the house.
One of her nephews ran back to get the dog, which was tied up under the balcony.
“We got out and remembered the dog… one of the nephews ran down and let the dog go.
“There was no way they were going to let the dog suffer because they could hear him.”
Hau said she had lived in the house for 15 years and had brought up all of her five kids there.
She and her family were currently staying at her mum’s house in the same street, and had a meeting with Kāinga Ora booked in on Monday.
“I’m hoping they can relocate us”.
Hau said she cancelled her contents insurance just before Christmas.
“We were meant to be relocating anyway so I thought I would stop it.”
Hato Hone St John said ambulance officers assessed and treated four patients in a minor condition at the scene.
Pennefather said a fire investigator attended the scene yesterday and was still investigating the incident.
It was a “timely reminder” for everyone to check they had working smoke alarms.
If you can help Alicia and her family, please email or phone her: email@example.com or 021 08366 173.