Child passed from window in escape from Christchurch blaze

Firefighters at the scene in Christchurch last night. Photos: NZ Herald
Firefighters at the scene in Christchurch last night. Photos: NZ Herald
A child was passed out of the window of a burning building and half-dressed residents were being rushed into ambulances as firefighters battled a large apartment fire in Christchurch last night.

Four Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fenz) appliances were sent to fight the blaze which was reported shortly before 10pm on New Brighton Rd, opposite The Palms shopping centre in the suburb of Shirley

“All persons are accounted for but there are some injuries to patients. We are unsure what those injuries are,” Fenz said this morning.

Hato Hone St John was advised of the fire at 9.54pm and dispatched two ambulances, a rapid response vehicle and an operations manager to the scene.

It was treating three patients, one with serious injuries and two with moderate injuries.

A witness, who asked not to be named, told The New Zealand Herald they heard a loud bang before plumes of smoke erupted from the apartment block.

Half-dressed residents escaped the blaze.
Half-dressed residents escaped the blaze.
They said they saw a mother and child on the top floor of the building.

“The mum passed the child out the top window and two boys from the street were underneath and caught her,” they said.

Afterwards the mother climbed through the top window and dropped to the ground, said the witness.

A neighbour two doors down from the property said he heard a large boom and what sounded like an earthquake.

“My partner said, ‘It’s an earthquake, it’s an earthquake,’ and we could definitely smell the smoke,” he said.

“It was a violent fire and was moving very quickly.”

The man said when he noticed it was a fire, his partner tried to collect valuables, including her passport.

“We evacuated as soon as we could.

“The fire brigade was here very quickly, and so was St John.”

Herald reporter at the scene on Wednesday said the smell of thick smoke was permeating through the street, with surrounding townhouse residents airing out their properties by keeping their windows open.

Pictures from the scene show both levels of the property extensively damaged, with all household items reduced to charred remains.