Quick-thinking teen averts tragedy

An Oamaru teenager is being hailed a hero after waking her parents, rescuing her grandfather and calling emergency services when her house caught fire.

The 14-year-old, who asked not to be named, said she was about to go to bed on Monday night when she heard a beeping sound — the smoke alarm.

When she walked into the kitchen, she saw the glow of flames coming from the lounge, where her 85-year-old grandfather, who uses a walker, was resting in a sofa chair at their Holmes Hill property.

She immediately woke her parents and called emergency services, before the three of them helped remove him from the house.

Police and Fire and Emergency New Zealand attended the blaze.

The teen’s grandfather was later transported to Oamaru Hospital, where he is being treated for smoke inhalation.

The small fire on the lounge floor was extinguished when a large rug was thrown over it, Sergeant Tony Woodbridge, of Oamaru, said.

He described the girl as "a bit of a hero".

If it was not for her, all four of the occupants might have perished if the blaze had spread, he said.

Asked about being labelled a hero, the girl said it "feels kind of cool", but was more worried about what could have been.

"It’s hard to think about because it has not fully set in that there was a fire. It’s just a bit scary to think about what could have happened.

"My granddad was sitting in front of it. He was a bit dazed I think."

Sgt Woodbridge said the incident was a close call.

"If it was not for the smoke alarm, we could have had four fatalities."

Oamaru Volunteer Fire Brigade Senior Firefighter Kevin Murdoch urged people to check their smoke alarms regularly, and to contact the brigade if they wanted them installed.

The cause of the fire was being investigated, but was not considered suspicious.

daniel.birchfield@odt.co.nz

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