Shelter manager rescues men from fire

Last updated 23:04 09/02/2014
Wellington night shelter
Fairfax NZ

FREAKY: Residents were helped from the Wellington night shelter as the fire took hold in an upstairs room.

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A Wellington night shelter manager has been praised for pushing through thick smoke to rescue two residents.

One room was damaged and two people treated for smoke inhalation after a room caught fire at the shelter on Taranaki Street shortly before 10pm this evening.

Night shelter shift supervisor Vincent Hartley said the lights were already out for the downstairs clients’ curfew when the alarm sounded.

A crowd of shelter occupants waited outside as five fire engines, an ambulance and police cars blocked the street as they dealt with the fire in an empty room on the upper storey, which houses the shelter’s permanent residents.

Shelter Duty Manager Peter Burke earned firefighters’ praise after he rushed upstairs and evacuated two elderly residents to safety.

There he had found the hallway ‘‘thick’’ with billowing black smoke. Burke said he soon exhausted the fire extinguisher and helped two men, including one in his eighties, to safety.

‘‘I was trying to put out the fire and help the fellas at the same time — it was pretty freaky,’’ he said.

The pair suffered minor smoke inhalation and were treated by Wellington Free Ambulance paramedics. It was not yet known whether the fire was suspicious, Wellington fire station senior officer Paul Lyall said.

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