11-year-old beside herself after Auckland house fire

8:21 am on 23 December 2016

An 11-year-old girl who survived a house fire that killed three members of her family is waiting to see her seriously ill father.

Three generations of her family - her mother, grandmother and five-year-old brother - were killed when their home in Flat Bush, Auckland, caught fire in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The scene of the fatal fire in Flatbush in Auckland, which claimed three lives.

The house caught fire in the early hours of yesterday morning. Photo: RNZ / Joanna Mackenzie

The girl and her grandfather were released from hospital yesterday. Her father, Kailesh Thanabalasingham, remains in Middlemore Hospital with significant burns.

Family friend Sivaram Anandasivam said the community was supporting the young girl and her family.

"She is absolutely beside herself with grief, she can't bear it. She's crying all the time."

Kailesh Thanabalasingham

Kailesh Thanabalasingham Photo: Facebook / NZ Sri Lanka Forced Migrants' Support Group

She was eagerly waiting for her father to wake up. "Yesterday there were lots of people waiting at the hospital for him but he was in surgery all day. Once he has been moved to the intensive care unit we will be able to take his daughter to see him and show her that he is alive," Mr Anandasivam said.

He said they moved into the home only about six months ago.

"We are all so shocked by this. We have never experienced anything like this, they only moved into the new house not that long ago, so we can't figure out why there would not be smoke alarms."

Mr Thanabalasingham is a much respected member of the Sri Lankan community and of the Refugee Council.

Council president Dr Arif Saeid said he had spoken to Mr Thanabalasingham the day before the fire, and only found out about it from numerous messages on his phone.

"I was in a meeting in Hamilton so when I turned my phone back on I heard what had happened I went into shock - I don't know how I managed to drive myself back to Auckland.

"Kailesh was looking forward to Christmas very much. He was excited to have his mother-in-law and father-in-law here to celebrate with them."

Dr Saeid said Mr Thanabalasingham's door was always open to those who needed help.

"Kailesh is a wonderful man he is so community focused, he has helped so many refugees - not just from his own community but from all around the world.

Dr Saeid said family were travelling from Canada and the community was working to arrange the funerals.