Peter Dunn talks to the Otago Daily Times in Glen Rd,
Dunedin, yesterday. Photo by Linda Robertson.
The 54-year-old man saved from his burning Mornington
flat on Monday night may have been rescued twice, by different
Glen Rd mother-of-four Sarah Tregonning was credited with
reaching through the door of Graeme Pittaway's burning flat
and pulling him to safety.
But a passing motorist, Peter Dunn, has since come forward to
say he was the one who saved the man. Mr Dunn said smoke was
pouring from the flat and Mr Pittaway appeared to be just
standing in the middle of his lounge. He encouraged Mr
Pittaway to come out to his deck and on to a grassed area,
before checking other flats to make sure everyone was out.
Mr Dunn said he noticed Mrs Tregonning standing with Mr
Pittaway on the lawn soon after, but did not believe she had
saved the man, claiming she had just stood outside and
Yesterday, Mrs Tregonning said she stood by her version of
events. By the time she got to Mr Pittaway's door, the flames
had taken hold and he was standing in the doorway. She
reached in and pulled him out.
He kept trying to go back inside to find his cat, and people
in the area had to stop him. She did not see Mr Dunn, but
details had now emerged he had arrived before her. She did
not dispute Mr Dunn's actions.
''When I got there, the man was still standing just inside
the door, so perhaps he went back inside after the other guy
had taken him out. From what I've heard, it sounds like he's
been saved twice.''
Mrs Tregonning said it had been a traumatic experience,
including the criticism she had received from those in the
''I've not asked for any of this. It was the neighbours who
pointed me out to media and the police. If that's the way he
sees it, let him have the kudos. It's getting out of hand. I
never wanted the kudos.''
''The big picture is it was a community effort. It's not down
to one person. The main thing is [Mr Pittaway] wasn't injured
or killed,'' Mrs Tregonning said.
Southern Region fire safety officer Barry Gibson said his
investigations had revealed Mr Dunn was first on the scene,
and he had coaxed Mr Pittaway out on to the deck of the flat.
''I believe he [Mr Pittaway] has tried to go back in. He was
still on the balcony when Sarah arrived and, with all the
smoke, she may have thought she was reaching through the door
to pull him out, but it was actually a trellis near the
door,'' Mr Gibson said. ''Sometimes adrenaline runs and it's
not always clear what you've done.
''They both did a good job and their efforts were
admirable,'' he said.
A Dunedin City Council spokeswoman said four tenants were
affected by the fire.
Mr Pittaway was treated at Dunedin Hospital for smoke
inhalation. He received support from the Patients and
Community Trust (Pact), which would rehouse him.
Motel accommodation was offered to the other three tenants.
One accepted the offer and was still staying in the motel,
but would return to her flat once cleaning was completed. A
second tenant, who found private accommodation, would also
return once their flat had been cleaned, probably later this
The other tenant made his own arrangements and had been
offered an empty unit in the same Glen Rd complex.
The DCC spokeswoman said the council had insurance and
intended to rebuild the damaged unit.
The council owns about 960 units in Dunedin. In 15 years,
staff estimated there had been about five fires in council
City property staff were still awaiting a report from the
Fire Service on their investigation, she said.