Workers lose all in house fire

00:54, Jul 09 2014
NOTHING LEFT: Marlborough fire investigators search the charred remains of a house gutted by fire near Kekerengu.

Five foreign people have been left with only the clothes on their back after a fire gutted a house they were renting near Kekerengu early yesterday morning.

Firefighters were called to the house at Wharanui on State Highway 1, between Ward and Kaikoura, just after midnight.

Two couples, from Wales and France, who worked at The Store in Kekerengu shared the house with a Canadian woman.

SURVEYING THE DAMAGE: Fire investigator Rob Dalton talks to house owner Jock Clouston.

The couple from Wales had moved into the five-bedroom home just three days earlier.

The Store owner Sank Macfarlane said the five tenants, who had all been inside when the blaze started, were "pretty devastated".

They managed to get out before firefighters arrived, but had lost everything, he said.


"They were all pretty traumatised and shaken."

They arrived at The Store yesterday morning wearing the pyjamas they had slept in, he said.

The Express understands one of the men went to Wairau Hospital yesterday after suffering minor smoke inhalation.

The owners of the house, Kekerengu couple Jock and Nic Clouston, said the home had been in the Clouston family for about 70 or 80 years.

They were grateful everyone had got out safely and no-one had been hurt.

"It was unfortunate, but you can always replace a building," Jock Clouston said.

The house had been fully insured, he said.

Fire investigators were at the scene yesterday trying to establish what caused the blaze.

Marlborough chief fire officer and fire investigator Rob Dalton said it was believed to have started in the lounge, but how it started could not be determined because the fire had destroyed all the evidence.

Ward volunteer firefighter Larnce Wichman said two crews from Ward Volunteer Fire Brigade were at the scene first and were later joined by Seddon volunteer firefighters.

Sourcing water was initially a problem as the Ward crew had only one tanker and a fire truck, but firefighters managed to contain the blaze after Seddon firefighters arrived, Wichman said.

Crews surrounded and doused the building, dampening down the area before leaving just after 5am.

The Marlborough Express