Owner heart-broken at razed family home

TRACEY CHATTERTON AND TOM HUNT
Last updated 05:00 06/08/2014
Hawke's Bay house fire
TRACEY CHATTERTON/FAIRFAX NZ
Fire broke out in this Riverslea Rd South, Hawke's Bay home about 2.15am. The occupants all managed to escape.

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It broke Sarah Rogers' heart to see her family home burned to a shell.

During 16 years she raised her family there and welcomed grandchildren into the house in Hastings.

Rogers was visiting her daughter in Wellington when she learned that there had been a house fire in Riverslea Rd South early yesterday. Seconds later her cellphone rang and her property manager confirmed the bad news.

Rogers had been renting out the house since moving further south five years ago. It had been kept in the family just in case the children or grandchildren wanted to return home. "It's broken my heart."

A family with five children, including one who is 5 months old, had been inside the house when it caught fire shortly after 2am yesterday. All escaped but two were taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital suffering smoke inhalation.

A Facebook message alerted tenant Cheyenne Abraham that her home was on fire. She raced to the house her family shared with the other family early yesterday as embers smouldered: "Oh my god! It's true."

Abraham, a Hastings mother of three, and her partner had stayed at her cousin's house on Monday night. She woke to a Facebook message telling her that the home she shared with another family had caught fire.

Her three children, aged 5, 3 and 2 years, had not been home. She was relieved they were safe, but she did not know how she was going to feed them because her eftpos cards had been in the house. "All my stuff. I have nothing."

Her family had lived in the house for only six weeks and she did not know if there were smoke alarms.

"I should have checked . . . How stupid."

Hastings fire brigade senior station officer Mike Peachey said the seven people in the house "got out in the nick of time". Smoke alarms would have given them more warning, he said.

Rogers said there were three smoke alarms in the house. However, a tenant said there had been "some alarm" that had been beeping so they removed the batteries.

Fire safety investigators would look into the cause of the fire.

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- The Dominion Post

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