Northland woman Joanne Volkenamt has lost just about
everything she owns but has gained a new set of friends who
have rallied to help after a house fire.
The 51-year-old mother of two has received offers of help
from neighbours in Key West Drive, One Tree Point, after a
blaze extensively damaged the rented four-bedroom home on
The fire is believed to have been caused by an electrical
fault in a dehumidifier. Ms Volkenamt moved into the new home
about three months ago, after moving from Napier, and was
just beginning to settle in.
"I love Northland and the response I've had has just been
awesome. The neighbours and fire guys were just amazing and I
can't thank them enough," she said.
"The neighbours have gone above and beyond to help me."
A gift from an anonymous person contained undies, towels and
a dressing gown, while another neighbour had taken her
soot-covered car and returned it gleaming.
Ms Volkenamt had been watching television on Saturday and had
the volume turned up to compete with the noise of the rain
and thunder, when a smoke alarm in the hallway alerted her to
the fire about 9.30pm.
She went to investigate and saw flames leaping from a
dehumidifier that was about four years old.
Instinct kicked in and she ran from the house, grabbing her
laptop computer on the way out. Her next door neighbour rang
emergency services and they could only wait until help
"I heard the glass blowing out, that was pretty scary."
Ms Volkenamt said she told firefighters where she thought her
wallet and cellphone were in the house and they were able to
"I've done my crying and I'm okay and, as for the rest, thank
God for insurance. With a computer, wallet and phone you can
recreate from that."
She is staying with a friend.