House goes up in flames

Birthday celebration turns into a nightmare

IAIN SCOTT
Last updated 12:00 28/04/2014
House fire
FAITH SUTHERLAND/FAIRFAX NZ

DESTROYED: Firefighters at the Benbow Place home, damaged by fire.

Fire
FAITH SUTHERLAND/FAIRFAX NZ
NOTHING LEFT: Women embrace outside a house fire in Benbow Place in Palmerston North.

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What should have been her grandson's birthday celebration turned into a nightmare for a Palmerston North woman when a house fire claimed everything she owned.

The woman, who did not want her name published, said she had gone out to buy cake mix for her grandson's birthday on Saturday morning when she received a call.

"A neighbour phoned . . . and said my house was on fire," she said outside her charred home. "We got here and my house was gutted."

Two fire crews responded to a call at 9.21am and arrived to find the house in Benbow Pl, Awapuni, engulfed in flames, senior station officer Rob Freeman said.

A third crew, from Milson, was called in for extra manpower.

A fire communications spokesman said the fire was quickly extinguished as it was small house.

"There was a cat and three kittens in the bathroom that didn't survive, and there was a quite agitated pitbull in the back yard."

The house owner said everything she owned, including her prized porcelain doll collection, was in the house. "I've got no insurance," she said. "I'm only a caregiver and I've got no insurance."

The last photograph taken with her husband, who died 15 years ago, had been on the mantelpiece.

"There was a big family photo and that was all the photos I had. My memories are just gone. All that I had is gone," she said.

"All I have is what I'm standing in."She said she would stay with her daughter for now. Freeman said the fire, which was not being treated as suspicious, began in a rear corner of the house. "It's considerably damaged the house and it's through to the second unit." The house would be uninhabitable, he said.

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- Manawatu Standard

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