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Heated towel rail starts house fire

MARYKE PENMAN
Last updated 10:18 05/12/2012

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A heated towel rail that caught fire last night threatened to burn down a North Shore family's home.  

The fire service were called to Kunzea Pl in Greenhithe about 5pm as the homeowner battled to contain the blaze in his upstairs ensuite bathroom. 

Albany and East Coast Bays firefighters used high pressure hoses to douse the flames that threatened to engulf the adjoining bedroom.

Albany fire station officer Ron Henderson said the family were watching TV downstairs when their smoke alarm went off.

The homeowner then ran upstairs to find the top floor filling up with smoke and the bathroom door on fire.

"The guy had the presence of mind to get containers of water onto it and use a fire extinguisher to contain the fire until we arrived," Henderson said.

Smoke and flames had damaged the bathroom, but Henderson said the rest of the home wasn't affected.

"They are very lucky they were home as with the nature of this fire it could have at least burnt through the top floor," Henderson said.

"The homeowner did everything right and it is absolutely through no fault of their own that it was started."

An investigation is expected to confirm the fire started from the switch connected to the towel rail, Henderson said.

The family told investigators the towel rail hadn't worked since they moved into the property six months ago.

"It appears there may have been a fault the previous owners didn't advise them of. The switch was in the off position," Henderson said. 

"If an electrical appliance stops working for no apparent reason, especially one installed like a towel rail, you need to determine what has caused that and not just leave it.

"It could fire up again if there is still power to the switch."

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