National | Fire

Kaikohe house fire destroys league dreams

A fire which gutted a Kaikohe house yesterday has also seen the dreams of young local rugby league hopefuls go up in smoke.

The blaze destroyed the home of a whānau of ten and spread to a neighbour's uninsured garage, filled with league development gear.

"It's a young family over there, with their parents, for them not to be there was a lucky thing- thank God nobody was killed," says Benson Selwyn of Te Rarawa.

Selwyn is the neighbour and was the first witness to the scene, which he describes as "terrifying".

"We ran past the flames to get out onto the main road and you could feel it out there.  The fire was out here and we were on that side and you could still feel it," he says.

The blaze was so fierce the heat ignited Selwyn's uninsured garage and van.  Today, as he rummaged through the ruins he held back the tears.

"The part that hurts the most is that the stuff like the training equipment, the hit pads, the tackle bags out there, the cones, it's all gone now.  I used all this stuff here for the local kid's school teams and club team.   They would come and borrow the stuff, now its all gone."

Selwyn is the Northland Rugby League development officer, tasked with up-skilling kids through rugby league drill programmes.

"We rely on sponsorship and funding, so whatever [gear] we can get we hold on to like gold.  You can't just go around the corner and buy another one.  These things here they're $56 each.  I had ten of them, these are $45 each- they're gone," he says.

Selwyn is thankful no lives were taken, but now it's about finding a way forward for the local kids.

"We've lost quite a bit, this is gonna be a killer.  The gazebo, I have had that for nearly twelve years, this was used for rain cover for the kids when we would have tournaments down there because they would come with nothing, they don't have raincoats.  You'd have 40 kids all nestled under the gazebo to keep dry, now what am I going to give them?"

The family of ten who lost their home are now staying with whānau.  Police and a fire safety investigations are continuing.