26 Jan 2016

Teen's warehouse fire death 'totally avoidable'

5:24 pm on 26 January 2016

A 14-year-old girl's death in a fire at a warehouse party in Rotorua nearly three years ago was the outcome of young people being left unsupervised with alcohol, a coroner has found.

Mihinui Tamiana died from heat and smoke inhalation after a generator caught fire while it was being refuelled with petrol - with a cigarette lighter being used as a light source.

About 200 young people attended the party at the disused warehouse in June 2013.

Bay of Plenty Regional Coroner Dr Wallace Bain said the death was a further example of the power of social media and the fact teenage brains were not yet fully developed.

The police had told the coroner the floor of the warehouse was awash with petrol spilled while filling the generator.

"Some notices [were put up] at local schools but essentially social media has driven this and, in a moderately sized warehouse, to have over 200 people in the circumstances as set out by Detective Senior Sergeant John Wilson is stupidity at its worse," Dr Bain wrote in his report.

"What is even more stupid is the use of the two generators with fuel inside, the attempts to fill them with fuel washing all over the floor and then, unbelievably, the lighting of a fire lighter in those circumstances, which set the whole building alight."

He said Miss Tamiana did not have alcohol or drugs in her system, and would have been quickly overcome by smoke and heat.

"She has regrettably been the victim of a most tragic death in circumstances that were totally avoidable and should never have happened."

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