Sick mum unaware of son's death in fire

THE mother of a little boy killed in a house fire is unaware her son is dead and has missed his funeral.

Cherie Kingi remains on life support after she was severely burned in the fatal fire in Hamilton last Sunday.

Yesterday 3-year-old O'rlandau Kingi-Day was buried by his grieving family as the New Zealand Fire Service announced a novelty lighter started the blaze - calling for them to be banned.

The preschooler perished in the fire in the Dinsdale house where he lived with Ms Kingi and three brothers, two of whom were rescued from the burning home with minor injuries.

It's thought Ms Kingi risked her life to save her children but the 10.30am fire spread through the house within minutes, overcoming her and O'rlandau.

Ms Kingi's mother, Helen Kingi, said emotions were still too raw to speak about the tragedy but she said her daughter was unaware of what had happened.

"She's just stable at the moment. She's still on life support."

The 35-year-old was transferred from Waikato Hospital to the National Burns Centre at Middlemore Hospital earlier this week.

Mrs Kingi said O'rlandau's tangi at a marae in Hamilton was special. She said the little boy's brothers - 18-year-old Jahden Day and 4-year-old Ziah Day - who were in the fire, and Dre Day, 20, who was not at home at the time, were coping well for now.

A Givealittle page set up to help the family had raised more than $6500. At the burnt out home well-wishers had placed colourful toys, flowers and balloons in O'rlandau's memory.

New Zealand Fire Service fire investigation manager Peter Wilding said he believed the fire was started by children playing with a novelty lighter. It is understood the lighter resembled a gun but novelty lighters are also made to look like cartoon characters, toys, animals, watches, telephones, musical instruments, the human body, vehicles and food.

The Fire Service and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment have been working to ban the importation of these lighters and to make all other types of lighters more difficult for children to use, especially cigarette lighters, Mr Wilding said.

Novelty lighters are outlawed in Australia, Europe and many parts of the US. "It's time New Zealand caught up. They are dangerous because their toy-like appearance makes them attractive to children, who have no idea of their lethal potential."

Mr Wilding said children under 5 started about 200 fires in the past five years, frequently with lighters. Those same fires resulted in injuries to almost 50 children and adults.

Amendments to product safety regulations are expected to go before a select committee early next year and to pass into law by June 2015.

The Hamilton blaze, the fifth house fire fatality since July 1, showed the importance of working smoke alarms, Mr Wilding said. The single alarm at the house had been disabled because of false activations from smoke while cooking.

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