A man suffered burns to his hands and feet after fleeing a
garage that was quickly engulfed by flames.
The garage, converted into a sleepout on a Maketu Rd,
Tauranga property, was gutted by fire after the occupant left
a candle burning.
Ruth Kerr was asleep inside a house less than 2 metres away
from the garage when the fire started.
She said the sleepout had no working electricity so her
boarder used candles for lighting.
"If only I had woken up, because I have seen the candle
flickering in the past and called out to him to tell him to
put it out, but for some reason I didn't wake up.
"I'm beside myself at the moment, I have no insurance."
The windows cracked from the heat and a plastic water storage
container melted. Plants in her garden also partially caught
"It just happens so quickly. The tin cladding saved my house
from catching fire."
Ms Kerr said it was lucky no one was badly hurt, although the
boarder did get burns to his hands and feet.
The boarder was taken to Tauranga Hospital for treatment and
Unfortunately, a litter of kittens had not been found after
the fire, Ms Kerr said.
"It was a bit sad because the mother cat couldn't get her
kittens out. We couldn't get in there, it was too fierce and
The garage roof caved in and all the boarder's belongings
were destroyed, including furniture and household goods, Ms
Kerr said. Her deep freezer full of meat was also destroyed.
Maketu fire chief Shane Beech said he was called to the fire
just after 4am yesterday. He said that on arrival the
converted garage was fully involved.
"The occupant was out of the building and had burns to his
hands and feet. Unfortunately, the building was totally
destroyed by the fire but we managed to stop it spreading to
Mr Beech said he believed the tin cladding on the house
stopped it from catching fire.
It took more than two hours to put out the fire as the roof
caved in, making it harder for firefighters to get to the
burning timber, he said. Mr Beech said a working smoke alarm
would have given Ms Kerr's boarder earlier warning about the
"It's all about working smoke alarms. He did the right thing
by getting out of the building."
- By Sonya Bateson of the Bay of Plenty Times