6 Apr 2015

Saved with minutes to spare

12:44 pm on 6 April 2015

Two young girls played a big role in getting everyone out of a burning Gisborne house safely, a relative says.

The house this morning.

The house this morning. Photo: RNZ / Murray Robertson

Six children aged between two and 11 were sleeping in the house when the fire broke out late on Saturday night.

Daphne Stone, grandmother of three of the children, went back into the burning house to save them.

Because she could not get through flames to where her grandchildren and their three cousins were sleeping, she had to climb back into the house through a window to wake them.

Her brother Bruce Stone said his sister would only be thinking of the children when she went back into the burning house - and the two eldest children were just as brave.

"The two older girls had already got the two-year-old child out of the house," he said.

"When Daph went in, it was just our two younger grandchildren and the younger cousin were in there, and those were the three that she was able to pass out to us before coming out herself," he said.

Fire crews said the children were saved with just minutes to spare.

Mr Stone said his elder sister was very humble and uncomfortable with being given hero status.

"She's not a person that is into being put on a pedestal or anything like that and she's really uncomfortable ... her comments to me were 'God, they were my grandchildren, what else was I meant to do'."

Fire investigator Derek Goodwin said it was reminder for people to check their smoke alarms are working, which the Fire Service recommends they do when daylight Saving ends.

"It's not known whether or not there a work smoke alarm was inside this house," he said.

Bruce Stone said the children were well and were looking forward to buying new clothes, as they lost everything in the fire.