Portobello mum not expecting apology from fire pit neighbour


A Dunedin mother says she doesn't expect to hear an apology from the neighbour whose smouldering fire pit destroyed her home and possessions.

Fire investigators have confirmed that embers from the day-old fire pit did cause the blaze on a very windy Saturday afternoon.

The fire on Beaconsfield Rd in Portobello threatened other properties and 14 homes had to be evacuated.

Alice Hudson, who rents the house, was there with two of her three children when the fire began.

She told RNZ today she's angry because the blaze could have so easily been avoided.

Ms Hudson said she knew the source of the fire all along, as she caught the start of it, and it was "a relief" to have it confirmed.

"The smoke that I initially saw was just the fire pit. As I ran outside, the hedge had just started to go up, but I was watching more embers transfer from the fire pit into the hedge with each gust of wind.

"And within three gusts of wind the whole shed and trees were up in flames."

Ms Hudson said the neighbour's fire pit was about two metres away from the macrocarpa hedge tree line and the blaze could have been "so avoidable".

"It's just idiotic really - who the hell doesn't throw water over a blimmin' fire pit when there's severe wind warnings? Who even has one going the day before?

"I'm angry - but it is pointless being angry, because it doesn't change the fact that we lost everything.

"An apology doesn't change anything - I highly doubt I'll be getting one.

"Our landlord's lost so much as well - it was their house ... it's pretty devastating and so preventable."

The community has rallied round to help, co-ordinating drop-off points for donations, bikes, clothing and a car had also been offered. The family is also living rent-free in a house provided by a Portobello couple until the new year.

Ms Hudson told RNZ the community has been "absolutely phenomenal".

"I don't even know where to start to thank people, really. It's really quite gobsmacking the generosity. The local volunteer fire brigade who put their lives on the line. I don't know how to thank them enough. They saved so much more from burning down."

She said locals also did what they could to help on Saturday.

"One guy was hosing down the neighbour's porch so that their house didn't catch fire... Saving all the animals - because lots of people weren't home."

A Givealittle page for the family had raised just over $25,000 by Wednesday morning.

- additional reporting ODT Online 

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