Elderly couple escape blaze
"There were flames leaping everywhere" as an elderly couple's home was consumed by fire in Auckland this morning.
The Fire Service says without smoke alarms "there would've been fatality" at the blaze which started at the couple's home in Miller St, Pt Chevalier, about 4.45am.
Smoke detectors gave the elderly couple "early warning" to escape as fire took hold, Ponsonby station officer Andy Cardno said.
A fire safety officer investigated and found an electric blanket was the cause, Cardno said.
Neighbour Bruce Rutherford said he was woken up by his wife, who had just got out of the shower when she heard noises next door.
She saw the fire and called 111. They took the elderly couple inside their house as they were just watching while out in the cold, he said.
Rutherford said windows were blown out and "there were flames leaping everywhere".
"He would've been dead if it weren't for smoke detectors," Rutherford said.
Rutherford said the couple was taken to Auckland Hospital for smoke inhalation and will stay at their daughter's house.
He doubts they will return home anytime soon.
This morning, friends and relatives of the elderly pair were rescuing what they could from the charred house.
Firefighters were standing by at the Miller St address using thermal imaging cameras until all hot spots were dampened and any flare ups contained.