Fatal Hillpark house fire started in chimney, no smoke alarms found

3:28 pm on 23 May 2024
The two victims of the Hillpark fatal house fire have been identified as Tony Marsters (left) and Kiwa Ropitini-Fairburn (right).

The two victims of the Hillpark fatal house fire were Tony Marsters (left) and Kiwa Ropitini-Fairburn. Photo: Supplied

An Auckland house fire which left two young men dead and a third seriously injured was started as a fire in the home's chimney.

Kiwa Ropitini-Fairburn, 25, and Tony Marsters, 24, died in the blaze on Freshney Place in Hillpark, shortly before 7am on 13 May.

The pair had been living at the home with their friend, who survived the fire and is recovering from serious burns.

A full investigation into the cause of the fire has now been completed.

A Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokesperson said the cause had been a fire in the home's chimney which was [https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/517085/hillpark-fatal-house-fire-not-suspicious-police-say

not suspicious.]

House fire in Hillpark in Auckland

Photo: RNZ / Melanie Earley

The spokesperson said it was a reminder for anyone with a fireplace to get their chimney cleaned before the first fire of the season.

It was also found the home had no smoke alarms.

"Fire and Emergency recommends working smoke alarms in every living area, hallway and bedroom," the spokesperson said.

Men killed in fire 'joined at the hip'

Ropitini-Fairburn had been a "loved member" of Kaihaka kapa haka group, founder and owner Eru Rarere-Wilton said.

He noted Ropitini-Fairburn travelled to other countries, including China and Italy, to perform with the group.

"Kiwa was my wife's nephew and lived with us for a bit before moving into that house with his best friends.

"It's all come as a shock. He was such a loving and beautiful soul and so talented.

"He had an amazing singing voice and when we were in China they all called him the karaoke king."

Learning of the deaths of Ropitini-Fairburn and Marsters was "deeply saddening", Rarere-Wilton said.

Kiwa Ropitini-Fairburn and Tony Marsters were "like brothers", Rarere-Wilton said, after becoming friends at Kia Aroha College while studying coding.

They both continued their education in communications at AUT, and recently worked in hospitality, he said.

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