'Ballistic' cat alerts family to fire

A couple and their young child escaped a house fire in Kyeburn after being alerted by their cat, firefighters say.

Volunteer firefighters from across the district who attended the blaze have been praised by the officer in charge of the emergency response for saving the house.

The fire in the brick farmhouse on State Highway 85, between Morrisons and Kyeburn, began about 3.45pm on Friday.

A Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokesman said later the house was ''well and truly done for'', having been knocked over as a result of the fire.

However, Ranfurly Volunteer Fire Brigade senior station officer Greg Baddock said yesterday that was incorrect, and firefighters deserved praise for their efforts.

He was officer in charge at the scene, and immediately called for more resources after arriving to find smoke and flames coming from both ends of the roof of the house.

Volunteer firefighters from Ranfurly, Middlemarch, Omakau, Naseby and a command unit from Alexandra were all quickly into their work, which ''knocked [the fire] back pretty quickly'', he said.

One end of the house was ''basically burnt out'', but the rest was only badly smoke-damaged, he said.

''When I drove down the drive I did not expect to save that house, but we did.

''We've basically saved 90% of the house.''

The fire appeared to have been caused by an electrical fault in the kitchen and the young couple - who were inside with a child in nappies at the time - managed to limit its spread by shutting doors as they fled, he said.

They were alerted by a pet cat which ''came in and started going ballistic'', Mr Baddock said.

''They checked out what it was and it actually got them out earlier than they probably would have.''



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