Family flees as flames approach

23:58, Feb 21 2013
Sadler family
'IT WAS LIKE ARMAGEDDON': Bonnie Phillips with her partner Chris Sadler and their five children, from left, Tilly 7 months, Fern 22 months, Poppy, 4, and Jade and Jesse, both 22 months.

A family of seven, including 22-month-old triplets, fled as a wall of flames approached their Wellington home.

"It was like armageddon," said Chris Sadler.

The family, including five children under five, were woken by shouts from neighbours at 2am this morning as the huge blaze took hold in Happy Valley.

"There was a lot of commotion, people sounding really terrified. We opened up the bi-fold doors and the whole hill was on fire," he said.

Wearing just shorts and shoes, Mr Sadler, 35, began scooping up children.

His partner Bonnie Phillips, 37, also grabbed the dog and a hard-drive containing photos.

Mr Sadler had just minutes to get Poppy, 4, 22-month-old triplets Jesse, Jade and Fern, baby Tilly, and the family dog to safety.

"When you've got more kids and hands it gets pretty awkward," Mr Sadler said.

The family fled up a nearby hillside, and watched the flames draw nearer to their home.

"It was like looking into the sun," Ms Phillips said.

Soon, they couldn't bear to watch, and went to a grand-parent's house for the night.

"I didn't want to watch my house go up in flames," Ms Phillips said.

Mr Sadler said he was amazed by the speed of the fire.

"Getting the kids was the only thing I was thinking about."

They were in no doubt the fire service had saved their home.

"They did a great job. Another hour and the house would have been gone for sure."

Contact Paul Easton
Hutt Valley reporter
Twitter: @pwe74


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