The charred remains of her Dunedin family home remind Tere
Singh how lucky she is.
Mrs Singh's house - which she owns with her husband Sahib -
is gone, but it can be rebuilt, she says.
''When we were standing there watching the house burn it was
hard - it was scary,'' she told the Otago Daily Times
''But I look over at my daughter and there's nothing as scary
as losing my daughter and family.''
Mrs Singh was asleep in her Chambers St house - as was her
9-year-old daughter Aarti, brother-in-law and sister-in-law
and their children - when fire woke the family's dog, Scooby,
just before midnight on Thursday.
''I heard my nephew screaming and he opened my door which
made me get out of bed and then I felt the heat,'' she said.
''I didn't know what was going on. As I left my room all I
could smell was smoke.''
It was Scooby's barking which woke her nephew, she said.
''It was thanks to our dog - man, and woman's, best friend.
''I will have to buy him a big dog biscuit now.''
Although the family had lost its possessions, ''I haven't
lost everything'', Mrs Singh said.
''I still have my daughter and family. Everything else can be
Mr Singh was at work at the time and had not noticed the fire
engines going past the family's North Rd restaurant.
Fire safety officer Mike Cahill, of Invercargill, said the
family was ''very lucky ... very, very lucky''.
''If it wasn't for the dog barking then they may not have got
With no working smoke alarms - as they had been removed for
home repairs - the barking of the dog alerted them to the
Neighbour Joe Va'atu'itu'i woke to the sound of the family
yelling and ''I thought it was a domestic''.
Instead he saw the shell-shocked family staring at ''the
He rushed back into this student flat and told his flatmate
to ring 111 and within minutes firefighters arrived.
Another flatmate went outside to hose a bush and the side of
their property - ''so our place wouldn't catch fire'', he
One of the windows in their property smashed as a result of
the fire, while another neighbour's property suffered damage
to an external wall.
Six appliances and the command unit from Dunedin attended,
and one person was taken to Dunedin Hospital for treatment
for minor smoke inhalation.
The family salvaged what they could from the charred remains
of the home yesterday.
Mr Cahill said the cause of the fire had yet to be
Mrs Singh said the family intended to rebuild their house.