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A South Dunedin woman has spoken of helping a man to safety in a house fire which claimed two lives this morning.
Emergency services were alerted to the blaze in Wesley St about 5.15am and arrived soon after to find the property, which is divided into two flats, well alight.
Neighbour Mel Ryall, who lives directly behind the single-storey wooden house, said she noticed the blaze when she came back from dropping her husband at work about 5.10am.
"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.''
She then remembered a man who needed assistance walking lived in the front flat of the burning property.
"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.''
Ms Ryall put her arms around the man and got him to safety.
"I was concerned the fire was getting close to the neighbour's window because it was at the side of the house.
"I went to knock on the next door neighbour's door to wake them up. They had fire damage too.''
After the ordeal they were all soaking wet from the rain, she said.
Ms Ryall said she felt for the family who had lost loved-ones.
"I hate to think if we were all still sleeping and my husband hadn't have gone to work, what could have happened.
"The houses are so close together. I'm just glad I could alarm some people and there weren't some more lives lost.''
There was considerable fire damage at the side of the building and also a hole in the roof.
Police said they were working with Fire and Emergency NZ to determine the cause the blaze.
Police were treating it as unexplained and would like to hear from anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious in the area around the time of the fire.
Contact Dunedin Police on (03) 471-4800. Information could also be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.