Man saved by smoke alarm

A smoke alarm helped alert the occupant of this house bus, after it caught fire early yesterday. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
A smoke alarm helped alert the occupant of this house bus, after it caught fire early yesterday. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.

A smoke alarm in a house bus is credited with saving the life of a Dunedin man early yesterday.

Emergency services were called to the blaze near Brighton at 4.36am, and the sole occupant was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and minor abrasions.

''There is no doubt he would have died if he had not heard the smoke alarm,'' Southern region fire safety officer Barry Gibson said.

The fire was believed to be caused by a small portable cooker in the kitchen of the converted bus, which might have been left on, Mr Gibson said.

The 47-year-old bus owner said the reality of just how lucky he was sank in after seeing the burnt-out shell of the bus.

The man, who did not want to be named, said he was wearing earplugs when the smoke alarm went off and ''I just thought it was the bloody alarm''.

''But it woke me up enough to notice the room was full of smoke.''

The man said he was not panicking as he was ''still half asleep'' when he jumped naked from the bus' emergency exit, but smacked his head in the process.

''I realised it was the middle of the night and I had no clothes on, so I grabbed some clothes near the fire exit which had my cellphone in it.''

He praised the quick response of the firefighters from Brighton and Lookout Point, and the St John Ambulance staff who treated him.

The fire served as a reminder for people to have smoke alarms installed and an emergency plan in the event of the fire, he said.

''At the end of the day the bus is just a vehicle, I am OK, and everyone who helped was just amazing.''

The bus, which he used for camping, was insured, he said.

- hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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