Mother and child escape fire

SCENE: Neighbour Junior Lia speaks with firefighters.
SCENE: Neighbour Junior Lia speaks with firefighters.

A mother and young boy have escaped a fire that has gutted a Palmerston North flat.

Multiple emergency calls came in about the fire at 12.30pm, which started in one of a block of council flats in Rakaia Pl, off Ferguson St.

The fire was believed to have started in an upstairs area of the house.

GUTTED: A firefighter walks through the destroyed flat.
GUTTED: A firefighter walks through the destroyed flat.

The flat was "fully involved" and three trucks from the Palmerston North fire service attended.

Martha Salihombo said was sitting inside when she glimpsed smoke coming out of the upstairs window of her neighbour's house.

"The boy's mum was screaming 'what did you do' and then the window glass smashed with the heat," Mrs Salihombo said.

The mother took the boy outside as Mrs Salihombo called emergency services.

No one was injured in the blaze.

Mrs Salihombo said the mother was in the process of moving out of the flat and had packed up a lot of her gear earlier in the day.

Fire service Manawatu assistant area commander Rodger Calder said they could see the fire from the station.

"It was pretty close to us. We got here and made entry and extinguished it really quickly."

The mother and boy were being looked after by city council staff, Mr Calder said.

The quick entry by firefighters had potentially saved the two neighbouring flats which had suffered smoke staining but no physical damage, Mr Calder said.

One of those flats is occupied by Junior Lia, who was thankful he was at home with his young children at the time.

"I smelt the smoke but I just avoided it and then I heard yelling and smashing and I just got the kids outside.

"We were really, really lucky man."

Manawatu Standard