Volunteer firefighters were lucky to escape serious injury
when a smouldering West Coast house "exploded" in flames
during a wind gust.
The blaze one on two suspicious fires early on New Year's Day
attended by the Cobden Volunteer Fire Brigade.
Fire chief Gary Pollock said the brigade was called first to
a car fire in Newcastle Street about 1am and had just
returned from that when it was advised that an unoccupied
house in Peel Street was ablaze.
"When we arrived the house fire was quite contained, just a
bit of smoke billowing from it, but all of a sudden there was
a bit of wind and the whole thing exploded," Mr Pollock said.
Firefighters were far enough away from the eruption to escape
injury, but he said there could have been serious
consequences had they been closer.
"We ended sounding a second alarm, which brought in help from
the Greymouth, Brunner and Runanga brigades but there was
little we could do ... the house was gutted."
It was 5am by the time the engine was back at the station but
it was to return to the Peel Street site twice more during
the day, first to dampen down a hot spot when the fire
inspector was examining the scene in the morning and later to
secure roofing iron which was flapping around in the strong
"There was not much holding it (the iron), the roof having
collapsed into the structure in the inferno," Mr Pollock
Fire Service Tasman assistant commander Mark Boere said an
investigation had been completed but he was unable to comment
on the outcome, except that the report was going to the
Sergeant Matthew Frost, of the Greymouth police, said both
fires were "suspicious" and inquiries were continuing.