Son's candle guts Otaki flat in fire

Last updated 12:16 10/02/2014

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A solo father and part-time barman is devastated after he lost all his possessions in a fire started when his 16-year-old son left a candle burning in his bedroom.

The Otaki fire service was called to a flat in Mill Rd about 11am today to a blaze.

Sergeant Slade Sturmey said the 16-year-old had left a candle burning in a bedroom and later heard a "hissing" sound. He went in and discovered the bed on fire. He threw a bucket of water on it, but the blaze spread rapidly.

The boy's father, Terry Clark, who owns the flat but was not there at the time, said he was devastated to have lost all his possessions, including memorabilia.

Although he was insured, precious family items could not be replaced.

"It is all a bit of shock. Everything is gone apart from my rugby league team photo, when we won a competition in 1996, and a photo of my nephews," Mr Clark said.

A precious jersey previously belonging to rugby league star Peter Edwards was destroyed in the fire, along with "my nana's piano, my drum kit, family photos," he said.

The main thing was that his son was alright. "At least I am not ringing up Harvey Bowlers for a funeral." 

There was a clear message from the fire service, "don't play with fire," he said.Neigbours and an adjoining flat owner noticed the smoke and called the fire service. 

It took fire fighters about half and hour to extinguishing the flames and about an hour to put out hot spots.

Two fire trucks attended and the blaze, which gutted the two-bedroom flat and spread into the ceiling space of the adjoining flat causing smoke and water damage.  The youth and the adjoining flat owner were treated for smoke inhalation at the scene by ambulance staff.

Mr Sturmey said the boy suffered "singed hair and a singed ego."

Otaki fire chief Ian King said it was extremely lucky no-one was seriously hurt. 

Mr King confirmed the fire was started by a candle falling over in an unattended room and the youth tried to put the fire out.

"Don't leave candles unattended. An early call is important - it is well and good to try and fight the fire but call the fire service first", he said.

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- The Dominion Post

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