NZ’s worst housefire since 1970s was ‘definitely survivable’, fire official says

Two years after a blaze in Auckland killed four members of the same family - making it New Zealand's worst house fire in decades - the Coroner has released a report suggesting the deaths could have been prevented.

Three generations of the Thanabalasingham family perished in the December 23, 2006, blaze at their Flat Bush home, including a five-year-old boy, his mum and his grandmother.

Several "unfortunate" factors contributed to the fire becoming so deadly, but it was "definitely survivable", Fire and Emergency's Fire Investigation National Manager Peter Wilding said today in a statement following the release of the Coroner's report.

He lamented the fact that neighbours could hear windows breaking that night but didn't immediately call 111.

"As communities, we need to look out for each other," he said.

The report found that the child, his mum and his grandmother became trapped upstairs after realising that the fire had blocked the exit. They took cover in bathroom but left two other doors open that could have created additional barriers.

"Tragically, our investigation shows that if they had closed the doors, the intense heat and toxic smoke from the fire probably wouldn't have reached them," Mr Wilding said.

The report suggests changes to building regulations regarding smoke alarms and sprinklers. It also recommends authorities look at regulations to reduce the flammability of furniture.

News of the tragedy touched many New Zealanders' hearts in 2016. Kailesh Thanabalasingham, 47, a Sri Lanka native who worked for the Human Rights Commission, was the last family member to die, about a month after the blaze killed the others.

"Kailesh is one of those people you can always count on. He's very giving, and very hard working and very principled and highly ethical," colleague Deborah Manning told 1 NEWS in 2016. "This is a devastating situation for the community."

His 11-year-old daughter escaped the fire unharmed.

"They are a very beautiful family," another friends said, recounting the devastating process of breaking the news of the deaths to the surviving child. "She's very upset and she's not talking to anyone at this stage."

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    Family friend Deborah Manning said Kailesh Thanabalasingham is still fighting for his life as the three people killed in the Flatbush fire are laid to rest. Source: 1 NEWS