Heating cannabis costly

A fire which destroyed a house and damaged another was started by a Dunedin man trying to inhale cannabis over an lpg heater, the Dunedin District Court has been told.

At its peak, dozens of firefighters using five fire appliances battled the blaze, which broke out in the basement of a Tomahawk Rd, Ocean Grove, house on August 15.

The cause of the fire was revealed when Lucas Arthur Caley (34) appeared yesterday before Judge Michael Crosbie on a charge of procuring/possessing cannabis seed.

The charge followed the fire which enveloped his parents' home. That evening, Caley and a friend were in a modified basement area of the house playing on a computer and watching television.

Caley scraped the remains of a cannabis pipe in order to get more cannabis, police said in the summary of facts.

A flash of fire overcame him and the room erupted into flames after he tried to heat the material over a portable lpg gas heater in order to inhale it.

He and his friend tried to put out the inferno but were unable to prevent the flames from spreading.

Following the incident, his friend described to the Otago Daily Times the ''ball of flames'' that burst from a downstairs room.

He screamed at Caley to get his young son out while he dragged Caley's father down a flight of stairs and through smoke-filled rooms. ''Me and him couldn't breathe at the time. The house filled with smoke,'' he said following the fire.

Caley suffered burns to an arm and his face as he rescued his 2-year-old son from a bedroom.

A neighbour, whose home was damaged by fire and smoke, saw Caley collapse on the grass outside his burning home and helped him cross the road away from the flames.

Caley, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, was sentenced to six months' supervision, with drug and alcohol counselling.