Neighbour saves sleeping drinker

An intoxicated man who went to sleep while cooking has a smoke alarm and an alert neighbour to thank for his life.

Wanganui Fire Service assistant area commander Jemal Weston says the man's story is a perfect example of the reason for the "Don't Drink and Fry" ad campaign.

The Fire Service was called at 2.32am yesterday by the man's neighbour in Kauri St, Wanganui. She had said his house was full of smoke and she could see a pot on the stove.

When two fire trucks arrived at the Gonville address firefighters put on breathing gear, broke into the locked house, turned off the stove and took the pot - moments away from bursting into flame - outside.

When they searched for occupants, senior firefighter Seton Brown found a man asleep in the lounge, with the single smoke alarm still going.

He had shouted and shaken the man, who had woken suddenly, stunned, and asked what was going on.

Firefighters had shown him the pot, which contained "a lump of meat, burnt beyond recognition". They had used a fan to clear the house of smoke. The man had apologised for his lapse, and thanked them.

Mr Weston said he was lucky to be alive. "A working smoke alarm, in conjunction with his neighbour hearing and acting on the sounding smoke alarm, saved his life. A cooking fire at that time of the morning could have become a fully blown house fire in five to 10 minutes and resulted in another fire death."

- Laurel Stowell of the Wanganui Chronicle

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