Early riser saves man, alerts brigade about fatal fire

Mel Ryall displays a photo she took after rescuing an elderly man from a  Wesley St house fire...
Mel Ryall displays a photo she took after rescuing an elderly man from a Wesley St house fire which killed two people. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Mel Ryall was returning to her Wesley St home early yesterday when she saw smoke billowing from her neighbour's property.

It was about 5.10am. She had just dropped her husband off at work.

``I saw smoke coming out, so I parked the truck and got my stepson, who was home at the time, to ring the fire brigade.''

The back of the unkempt wooden property had been largely gutted by this point, but Mrs Ryall remembered the man who lived at the front needed walking assistance.

``So I ran down the driveway. He was yelling `fire, help', and needed help getting out because he didn't have his walking frame with him.''

The man, Kevin Taggart, was woken by his fire alarm.

Mrs Ryall put her arms around Mr Taggart and led him to safety.

He was checked by an ambulance officer for smoke inhalation but did not need to be taken to hospital.

At that point, Mrs Ryall became concerned the fire was getting too close to a window on an adjacent property.

``I went to knock on the neighbour's door to wake them up. They had fire damage, too.''

A few people were standing on the street, getting soaked by the rain, as firefighters arrived.

Inside the back flat, the fire claimed the lives of two people.

Mrs Ryall said she hated to think what would have happened if she had still been sleeping when the fire broke out.

``The houses are so close together. I'm just glad I could alarm some people and there weren't some more lives lost.''

jono.edwards@odt.co.nz


 

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