Chimney fire smoke ‘thick’

Amelia Seales woke during the middle of the night to find her Normanby flat rapidly filling with...
Amelia Seales woke during the middle of the night to find her Normanby flat rapidly filling with smoke after a chimney fire spread into a wall cavity. All of the flat’s occupants escaped unharmed, including one who was sleeping less than a metre away from the fire. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
When Amelia Seales woke about 4.30am yesterday she knew something was not right.

With her flat rapidly filling with smoke from a chimney fire, Miss Seales used the light on her phone to find the cause of the smoke and wake her sleeping flatmates.

During the night the chimney had caught  fire and  had spread into a wall cavity while she  and the five other people in the flat slept.

There were no smoke alarms in the house.

"Everyone was sleeping, so I woke my boyfriend and we went into the lounge and you could see the flames and the smoke was really thick."

Her friend and dog were sleeping only metres away from the fire, unaware of the danger.

"We were super lucky that I woke up and got to it in time."

While one person called the fire service the others decided to try to extinguish the fire themselves, before the firefighters arrived.

Nobody was injured but they  had all inhaled a lot of smoke and felt quite ill, she said.

Miss Seales said their close call was a lesson for everyone to check their fireplace was clear and safe.

"We’ve been using ours quite a lot lately but we were  told and thought it was clear — so even if people think their chimneys are clear, they should check them just in case."

Fire and Emergency New Zealand southern communications shift manager Andrew Norris said two crews, from the Willowbank and central Dunedin  stations, were called to the blaze, which was originally reported as a house fire. When firefighters arrived they found the fire  contained to the wall cavity and  extinguished it without any issues, he said.

One crew spent another hour at the house making sure the fire had not spread into the ceiling, he said.

Miss Seales said they would be buying smoke alarms as soon as possible. 

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