Waimate house fire: Both parents and child dead, three children spared

A tragic house fire today in South Canterbury has left two parents and an eight-year-old dead, and three other children wounded.

Emergency services were called to a house/restaurant in the Waimate township on Queen street at around 7:45am today.

The house is owned by a Nepalese family, who also has a restaurant on the first floor. Police told reporters that the fire started in the kitchen, blowing out the building’s windows. There was reportedly no fire exit.

“It’s been a pretty intense fire … pretty black and charred. All the windows have gone,” said Mid-South Canterbury area commander Inspector Dave Gaskin.

The fire crew was able to rescue three children whom they found on the veranda at the back of the restaurant. They have been identified as 12-year-old Mamata, 16-year-old Manidsha, and 23-year-old Tulsa.

Their parents Tej and Tika Kafle, and their nine-year-old brother Pram were killed in the fire.

Bishnu Kafle, Tej’s Kafle’s brother, was informed of the fire shortly after the girls were rescued. He told reporters that the young women are in shock. He added that he will look after them.

“They opened a door and saw fire and smoke. They told me they broke a window to get outside. They said they couldn’t see their parents or brother,” he said.

The Herald reported that Tej Kafle came to New Zealand in 2005. His wife and children followed three years ago. They set up the restaurant about 18 months ago.

“We are shocked. Never thought this would happen here,” said a Nepali neighbour who works at a nearby farm. “We came to the restaurant a lot of the time. They were very friendly, good people.”

Those who would like to help can donate to the Everest Mayoral Support Fund, which was set up by Waimate’s mayor at the Waimate ANZ Bank. Donations can be given to the account ANZ 01 0893 0081636 00. The branch at 56 Queen Street is also available.