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Girl's death in fire preventable: coroner

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/10/2016

The death of a six-year-old girl in an Auckland house fire was "entirely preventable" and a reminder to keep matches away from children, a coroner says.

Anaseini Ma'asi died of smoke inhalation from a fire started by her four-year-old brother in the Onehunga property in November 2013.

Coroner Morag McDowell says it might be stating the obvious that fire-lighting devices and children do not mix.

However, the tragic event serves as a timely reminder that even the most basic safety messages need repeating.

"It is self-evident that a four-year-old child does not have the capacity to fully appreciate the risks associated with lighting matches, and no blame should be attributed to that child," she said.

"Rather, the real concern is that he had access to matches."

Anaseini was one of seven siblings, who were all at home with their mother, Amelia Ma'asi, when the fire broke out in the upper storey of the Oranga Avenue house.

Around 4pm, Mrs Ma'asi and her eldest child, 12, heard a smoke alarm.

The son traced the sound to the boys' bedroom, where he saw a pillow alight and his four-year-old brother holding a match and matchbox, and shouting, "I did the fire".

Mrs Ma'asi yelled to her children to leave the house and she and the eldest child tried to get a hose.

She realised Anaseini was still inside in a bedroom on the second floor and she and two neighbours tried to get up there, but were stopped by the smoke.

Firefighters arrived and found Anaseini unconscious. She was unable to be revived.

Ms McDowell commended "the courageous actions" of Mrs Ma'asi, her eldest child and neighbours in trying to put out the fire and retrieve Anaseini.

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