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It is believed that the father may have been cooking in the Kilmarnock Ave home, and had later fallen asleep before crews were alerted to the kitchen fire at 3.05am.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fenz) southern communications shift manager Andrew Norris said he could not confirm all details, but praised the boy for acting quickly and calmly to wake the rest of the family after he was woken by smoke alarms.
‘‘The 12-year-old then woke another child and the father,’’ Mr Norris said.
All three family members had safely left the house before firefighters arrived, and were uninjured.
The child may have benefited from household fire safety training offered by Fenz in Invercargill schools - but in any case, had done everything
right by concentrating on waking his family and everyone leaving.
‘‘The child has done the right thing,’’ Mr Norris said.
People could have been injured or worse if they had tried to fight the blaze themselves, he said.
‘‘Understanding the threat the family got out, didn’t try to fight the fire."
Firefighters backed by three appliances quickly extinguished it.
‘‘Working smoke alarms is the answer to the question of how they became aware of it,’’ Mr Norris said.
Damage had been largely confined to the kitchen and the house, and three lives had been saved.
The fire had highlighted the potential dangers of late-night or early-morning cooking, and again had shown the value of working smoke alarms and knowing what to do in an emergency, he said.