Family flee fire

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 04/02/2013

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A family of three escaped unscathed from a house fire in Palmerston North after neighbours alerted them to a blaze in their roof.

The fire started at the two-storey Kentucky Way home at 3.50pm on Saturday.

A neighbour who lived behind the property, Jude Weavers, said she smelt the smoke before she saw it, but it wasn't long before clouds of it were pouring out the house's eaves and gables.

"It was very smoky... I don't even think the family knew their house was on fire, it was another neighbour from next door who told them."

Senior fire station officer Rob Freeman said the nature of the fire in the 1980s dwelling was a "tricky" one to tackle, with the fire source located in the house's steep roof.

The building's design had sloped, angular ceilings, meaning fire services had to take an innovative approach to contain it.

"There was quite a steep pitch on the roof and the ceiling linings were against the rafters... we ended up having to cut lots of holes in the ceiling to have a look."

Fire services were required to put ladders up on the outside of the house to reach the internal blaze, requiring "some extra manpower" to secure the extendable towers, so 12 fire staff and three fire appliances attended the callout.

The blaze caused damage to the house's roof, including the space above the bedrooms, a hallway and garage.

"With the ceiling lining on the rafters you have to cut each rafter to see how far it's actually gone..."

The crew managed to contain the fire to one end of the house's roof space within 20 minutes.

Then fire officers took iron cladding off the roof before checking the success of the extinguishing, with a thermal imaging camera.

Freeman said the cause of the fire was unknown, but officers had ruled out defective equipment or anything suspicious.

A fire safety officer is investigating.

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- Manawatu Standard

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