Dream house up in flames

23:00, Feb 24 2013
Brent Gardiner
DEVASTATION: Brent Gardiner and his dog Patrick sit on what is left of their home, which was destroyed by fire. An electrical fault is believed to have started the blaze.

A Foxton couple have lost the home they spent six years renovating when firefighters were unable to control a blaze possibly caused by an electrical fault.

Brent Gardiner said he had no idea his Wall Rd dream house, located 5 kilometres north of the town centre, was on fire when he was cooking dinner for himself and his partner on Friday night.

"I was just cooking a couple of steaks on the stove and the power went out.

"I took a look out the back window and saw smoke wafting out the back towards the garage."

The house was quickly engulfed, with the fire moving in the spaces between the inside and outside walls, he said.

"The smoke alarms didn't even go off because the fire was above them in the roof." With the phone not working - "no power, no phone" - Mr Gardiner's partner ran to the neighbours to call the fire service.


He said he then did the one thing everyone says not to do - he went back into the house.

"I went to try to get my wallet out because I thought I knew where I left it, but there was a lot of smoke by then so I didn't stay in there long. "In hindsight, I would have grabbed a few things before I went out the first time."

Mr Gardiner said he and his partner moved to the property in 2005 and had a house relocated there.

"The outside was all done up, but we had to do the inside.

"I got it all redone - the power, the electrics, everything.

"I only put the new deck on 18 months ago."

He said he was grateful the fire service was able to save the other buildings on the property, and was confident he would be able to put another house on the land.

"It really is the dream section for us, but it's not much of a dream without a house."

Foxton fire chief Gary Stratford said the house was engulfed in flames when crews arrived.

"It was all up through the ceiling and had broke out the roof."

Two trucks went to the scene, but tankers from Feilding and Levin had to be called in as water was not easily accessible, he said. "It was a country environment and we only carry a certain amount of water on board.

"We did manage to find some water from a cow shed down the road.

"We were a bit lucky because the farmer had put in a hydrant when he renovated."

Fire officers were also able to use some water from the property's 10,000-litre supply tank, until the heat from the fire melted it. But ultimately, there was not a lot the crews could do, Mr Stratford said.

"A lack of water was going to be the biggest concern, and due to that [the house] was completely lost."

The dry conditions also did not help, he said.

While it was not confirmed what started the fire, Mr Stratford said it was not arson.

"The fire investigators will be lucky to find anything in there, but it was possibly an electrical fault."

Manawatu Standard