Portobello volunteer firefighters at the scene of a fire on
Harwood St, yesterday morning. Photo by Jamie Ramsay.
A sunbed is suspected of causing a fire which forced a
couple to flee their Otago Peninsula home with only the clothes
they were wearing, firefighters say.
Harwood property owner Lenore White called 111 about the fire
in a spare room at 9.24am yesterday.
Minutes earlier, her husband Donald had rushed outside to
battle the fire with a garden hose after ''something blew''.
In a dressing gown, Mrs White stood on the street as she
watched the home the couple built almost three decades ago,
engulfed in flames.
''I took nothing out of the house at all. We have lost 99.9%.
''I own a dressing gown and a cellphone ... we don't even
have a pair of shoes between us.''
She was grateful to see firefighters who arrived at the
property within minutes of the call.
Greg Dixon, of the Portobello volunteer firefighters, said
the house was well alight when they arrived. Several Dunedin
appliances and a water tank attended.
The fire was believed to have started by a sunbed, and would
form part of a fire investigation to be carried out today, he
In an electrical fire, people were urged to turn off the
property's main electrical switch, rather than the electrical
appliance, he said.
The couple was thankful three of their cats had been found,
with one unaccounted for yesterday afternoon.
''It is one of those things you don't think will ever happen
to you,'' Mrs White said.
They now plan to live on site in a sleepout while the insured
home is rebuilt.
The aftermath was made easier by support from the Harwood
community, she said.
''I have superb neighbours. This is the best place to live in
Water for their sleepout was expected to be connected today,
while an electrician visited yesterday to supply electricity
via a neighbour's property.
Mrs White said her walking frame also went up in the blaze
and in lieu of any potential donations she hoped people would
support the Dunedin physio pool, which is set to close this