Waimate ground to a standstill yesterday following a fatal fire that claimed the lives of a boy and his parents.
Eight-year-old Prame and his parents Tej and Tika Kafle were caught by the blaze in their flat above the Everest Indian Restaurant and Takeaway in Queen St.
About 7.40am yesterday the fire service were alerted to a fire above the restaurant, which is next to the Waimate Police Station.
Five appliances attended, three from Waimate, one from Glenavy and one from Timaru, along with a communications centre from Timaru.
Waimate’s volunteer fire crew were alerted to the fire at 7.44am and were at the scene 90 seconds later.
Three of the couple’s children, aged between 11 and 23, were found on a veranda behind the building and were looked after by two Waimate New World staff until the fire service arrived.
Mid South Canterbury police area commander Inspector Dave Gaskin said the three children were taken to Timaru Hospital with smoke inhalation.
“They were OK but have been taken to Timaru Hospital to be checked out.”
“It was quite a thick fire – all the windows have been broken,” he said.
Insp Gaskin said the New World staff did a great job.
“Three of the family’s children managed to escape out the back of the building and on to the veranda out the back, where a couple of workers from New World climbed up and looked after the children until the fire service arrived.”
On arrival, firefighters found the fire well- established but managed to rescue the three from the veranda at the back of the restaurant. The children suffered smoke inhalation and minor injuries.
The Fire Service then entered the building and found the bodies of two adults and a child.
Fire crews entered the flat from the Everest Indian Restaurant, which was run by the Nepali family, and dragged the body of the father on to the balcony out the front and then the mother and child down the stairs.
New Zealand Fire Service area commander for Mid South Canterbury Paul Henderson praised the efforts of his fellow staff.
“Everyone has done a fantastic job and the Waimate crew did a great job to respond as quickly as they could.”
Mr Henderson said he believed the fire started from an accident. Mr Henderson said it took about forty minutes for the fire to be brought under control.
“People could really only see thick black smoke,” he said.
The deaths have been referred to the coroner. Police are investigating the cause of the fire.
– Additional reporting the NZ Herald.
By Brayden Lindsay
PHOTO: BRAYDEN LINDSAY – Fire crews assess the situation.
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