Woman killed in Dunedin blaze named

‘‘A dear old soul’’ was killed when a large blaze broke out in her Dunedin home in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The Otago Daily Times understands Margaret Joan Archer died when a fire engulfed part of her Challis St, Vauxhall home about 3am.

Fire investigators were at the house yesterday working to determine the cause of the fire.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene about 3.30am, authorities said.

The blaze was brought under control about an hour later.

 A large fire tore through this Challis St house about 3am yesterday, leaving its occupant dead. Photos: Stephen Jaquiery
A large fire tore through this Challis St house about 3am yesterday, leaving its occupant dead. Photos: Stephen Jaquiery
Mrs Archer’s neighbour, Dunedin businessman Brent Weatherall, said the incident was a tragedy.

He had lived next to Mrs Archer since 2011. Her husband, well-known architect and former Dunedin city councillor Robin Archer, died in 2011.

Mr Weatherall said he woke up to a missed call from his tenant in the house across the road shortly before 3am.

He looked outside, and saw flames coming through the roof next door.

‘‘I threw on a pair of shorts and took off.’’

He met firefighters as they arrived out on the street.

A trickle of smoke rises from the house at daylight.
A trickle of smoke rises from the house at daylight.
The damage to the house was significant.

The glass on the front ranchslider blew out, and tiles were falling from the roof.

‘‘The flames were very close to home,’’ Mr Weatherall said.

‘‘The smoke and the heat ... it was very intense.’’

He saw firefighters bring Mrs Archer outside and administer CPR on her on the front lawn.

But sadly, she could not be revived, he said.

‘‘She was a dear old soul; it’s just horrible.’’

In a sad twist, Mrs Archer had been trying to move out of the Challis St house, Mr Weatherall said.

She had told him she was on a waiting list for the Summerset retirement village.

‘‘She nearly got one at Christmas time, and at the eleventh hour she just missed out on it.’’

Her death will be referred to the coroner.

daisy.hudson@odt.co.nz

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