Fire in house 'a real inferno - it was unreal'

Clothing and belongings on a vehicle outside the burnt-out house. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Clothing and belongings on a vehicle outside the burnt-out house. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
A South Dunedin family was lucky to escape its Bay View Rd home after a candle set fire to a bed and sent flames ripping through the house with surprising speed.

St Kilda Station Officer Kate Hill said a male occupant left the bedroom where a candle was burning next to a bed, but when he returned moments later, the bed was on fire.

The man, a woman and a toddler were in the house at the time, but all managed to escape uninjured.

''It was lucky they were awake, because there was no smoke alarm in the house,'' she said.

When the emergency call came in about 11.50pm on Saturday, the fire was relatively contained, but by the time the fire brigade arrive three minutes later, the house was well alight, she said.

''The gentleman at the house said he didn't realise how fast the fire was, and I told him we're not making it up.

''Fire is fast; smoke alarms do save lives and just paying a wee bit more attention to ensure we have fire-safe practices can avoid people losing everything by something that could have been avoided.

''It's heart-breaking when things could be avoided, and it's just really lucky that these people were awake, because that fire happened so, so fast.''

A neighbour, who declined to be named, said the fire was spectacular.

''It was a real inferno - it was unreal. Thank God it wasn't windy because the house is only 2m away. My house would have gone up too.''

Ms Hill said the damage to the house was ''pretty significant'' and it was not known if the owners or the occupants had insurance.

''It's a timely reminder for everyone to ensure that they do follow fire-safe behaviour.

''If you don't have smoke alarms, get some. If you would like it checked, call the local fire station,'' she said.

''And if anyone wants more information about being fire-safe around the home, you can contact your local fire station for a free in-home fire safety check.''

Firefighters stayed at the scene for almost four hours.


You say that people cannot

You say that people cannot afford to not have contents insurance, but when you are in a situation where paying for the basic necessities is a daily struggle, such insurance can end up being considered a luxury item by many today.  It seems that you might be one if the fortunate who can afford it, and that is good.  What is not good is criticising those who cannot.

Thankfully, we have a Fire Department whose primary goal is to save lives and protect property, regardless of the societal or financial status of those who need their services - which is as it should be, IMHO.

So would insurance!

A basic insurance cover would also assist in replacing the lost possessions, while this article doesn't clearly identify whether or not the occupants had insurance but the thread below does give some indication.

Interestingly a fire service levy makes up part of the insurance premium and those that don't have insurance are effectively receiving free fire service attendance, in some countries insurance companies issue policy holders a plaque to place on the outside of their property, no plaque and the truck drives away.

People cannot afford to not have contents insurance, as the Chch earthquakes have clearly identified so why do the rest of us continue to subsidise those that continue to take the risk, after all how many ODT stories are there that go on to say the occupants had insurance, not many compared to those that don't. 

They lost everything

This young couple and their almost 3 year old daughter lost almost everything they own in this fire, and a Facebook Page has been set up for those who would like to help them with household items or donations.  The name of the Page is "Help rebuild a Young Family", and it is run by a close friend of the 'male occupant'. 

Link to Page is:

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