Fire spares tenant alone

KAT DUGGAN
Last updated 05:00 01/09/2014
blenheim fire
ANTHONY PHELPS/FAIRFAX NZ
GUTTED: This Blenheim man was lucky to escape a house fire that ripped through his Main St house early yesterday morning.

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A Blenheim man has escaped unharmed but lost everything in a fire that ripped through his home, leaving only its outer shell.

Blenheim chief fire officer Rob Dalton said crews were called to the Main St house about 3am yesterday after the middle-aged man woke to find it ablaze.

It appeared the man had fallen asleep with candles burning, Dalton said.

"He woke up with his room on fire and made a hurried escape. He was very fortunate he managed to wake up."

The man was not hurt, he said.

He declined to speak to the Express, saying only he had lost everything.

Three fire engines from Blenheim, as well as one from Renwick fought the blaze, while a Picton unit stood by at the Blenheim Fire Station.

It took about half an hour to control the fire, but crews worked for sometime to clear any hotspots, Dalton said.

The blaze left just the shell of the house.

Neighbours at the Colonial Motel opposite the house were woken by the fire and had an anxious wait for the fire brigade to arrive.

Owner Peter Etheredge said guests at the motel gathered on the street "like moths to a candle", and were joined by others as they made their way home from the pubs.

"It was quite spectacular, a really good blaze."

After realising the sole occupant of the house was safe, their main concern became their own motel units.

"We were just a bit worried if the wind changed that the embers might come over here," Etheredge said.

His wife ensured the rooms closest to the street were evacuated.

However, the majority of those guests were already outside, he said.

"We were full of Nelson under-13 hockey kids, so we all got woken up and were out there to view it."

The light of day yesterday allowed him to see the full extent of the damage caused by the fire

"Everything is gone, it's just a real mess over there."

An investigation into the fire was underway, but there were no suspicious circumstances at this stage. kat.duggan@mex.co.nz

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- The Marlborough Express

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