Woman flees fire as it rips through rental house

Northland woman Joanne Volkenamt has lost just about everything she owns but has gained a new set of friends who have rallied to help after a house fire.

The 51-year-old mother of two has received offers of help from neighbours in Key West Drive, One Tree Point, after a blaze extensively damaged the rented four-bedroom home on Saturday night.

The fire is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault in a dehumidifier. Ms Volkenamt moved into the new home about three months ago, after moving from Napier, and was just beginning to settle in.

"I love Northland and the response I've had has just been awesome. The neighbours and fire guys were just amazing and I can't thank them enough," she said.

"The neighbours have gone above and beyond to help me."

A gift from an anonymous person contained undies, towels and a dressing gown, while another neighbour had taken her soot-covered car and returned it gleaming.

Ms Volkenamt had been watching television on Saturday and had the volume turned up to compete with the noise of the rain and thunder, when a smoke alarm in the hallway alerted her to the fire about 9.30pm.

She went to investigate and saw flames leaping from a dehumidifier that was about four years old.

Instinct kicked in and she ran from the house, grabbing her laptop computer on the way out. Her next door neighbour rang emergency services and they could only wait until help arrived.

"I heard the glass blowing out, that was pretty scary."

Ms Volkenamt said she told firefighters where she thought her wallet and cellphone were in the house and they were able to salvage them.

"I've done my crying and I'm okay and, as for the rest, thank God for insurance. With a computer, wallet and phone you can recreate from that."

She is staying with a friend.


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