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An Ashburton couple are mourning the loss of their cat and their ruined home after a fire began in their bedroom yesterday.
No one was home when smoke was seen billowing through the eves and guttering of their house about 12pm yesterday by nearby resident Bev Johnson.
"I was walking home from town and thought the smoke was way too low to be coming out of a chimney before I realised the house was on fire," she said.
"I was trying to wave down traffic for at least two minutes before a lady pulled over and we called 111."
Three fire engines rushed to the scene to find the couple's cat trapped inside the extensively smoke damaged home, caused by a fire found near the door of a bedroom.
Ashburton Volunteer Fire Brigade deputy chief fire officer Graeme Baker said firefighters entered through a sliding door with breathing apparatus on before extinguishing the fire.
The cat was brought outside by a firefighter and looked after by St John ambulance staff. The cat died soon after.
Mr Baker said it was too soon to say what caused the blaze.
"It's an unknown what caused it at this stage, we have got fire investigators from Timaru and the local fire safety officer down there too. Police are also down there checking the house out," he said.
The homeowners rushed home from work to find their home extensively smoke damaged. They were visibly upset, consoled by friends and neighbours.
"Obviously they are pretty cut up about it, it's not a pleasant experience so understandably they were upset," Mr Baker said.
He said they were contacting their insurance company.
Authorities are expected to have a better idea of the cause today.
- By Myles Hume of the Ashburton Guardian