Damaged house open to public viewing

VICKI WATERHOUSE
Last updated 12:00 06/07/2012
Fire
Robert Kitchin/FAIRFAX NZ
CHARRED: Volunteer firefighter Carmen Daniela surveys the damage to the house in Matipo St, Tokomaru, after it caught fire this week.

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Tokomaru firefighters are opening up a house that was badly damaged by fire so the town can see what fire can do.

A blaze tore through a Matipo St house on Monday morning and was the first house fire in the town for 35 years.

The kitchen and living room were badly damaged and the house was smoke damaged.

The two people living in the house escaped before firefighters arrived and neither was hurt.

Deputy chief fire officer Danny Riddiford said the Fire Service was having the open day so people in the town could observe first-hand the damage caused by fire. "It's just to show people what happens in a fire, how fast it spreads, how easily it can start," he said.

Firefighters arrived at the house within five minutes of the call and it had still badly burnt the kitchen and dining room. They were able to save about 65 per cent of the house.

The owners of the house have given the Fire Service permission to use their house to educate people.

They were now staying with relatives in Palmerston North.

Mr Riddiford said he thought people would come from as far as Opiki and Linton to view the house and he hoped it would improve their understanding of fires.

Manawatu area commander Mitchell Brown wanted the public education to start another 35 years without a house fire in Tokomaru.

Having the open home in the middle of the school holidays was also expected to boost the foot traffic.

"We want to get the families to bring their kids along and let the kids smell, see and feel the damage to people's properties, and hopefully that sticks in their minds," Mr Brown said. "No-one forgets the smell of a house fire. It's the most powerful tool we have."

A similar "open home" in Palmerston North in April attracted more than 300 people.

The home at 6 Matipo St, Tokomaru, will be open from 10am to 2pm on Saturday. Fire Service staff will be on hand to talk about fire safety.

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- Manawatu Standard

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