Rest home fire, but no panic
'I wanted more than a cup of tea'STAFF REPORTERS
Two elderly residents of a Blenheim rest home evacuated early yesterday morning when a fire broke out have praised the volunteer firefighters who came to their rescue.
Waterlea Rest Home residents Joyce Reeves, 90, and Daphne Hislop, 86, said the firefighters made sure no-one panicked and that everybody was kept warm.
So calm were residents that Mrs Reeves, a Christchurch refugee, remembered someone asking "Anybody making a cup of tea?" after they were let back inside.
"I wanted more than a cup of tea," she said.
Mrs Hislop wasn't sure if the fire had actually happened when she woke up yesterday.
"I thought, ‘Did I dream that?' When you are woken out of a deep sleep you're not really sure what's a dream or what's reality."
Blenheim chief fire officer Rob Dalton said a smouldering clothes dryer triggered an internal smoke alarm, alerting the staff and residents just after midnight yesterday.
The strong-smelling, thick smoke that spread from the smouldering items in the dryer was bad enough to be an irritant, and required an evacuation, Mr Dalton said. Ten residents needed help.
The clothes dryer had caught fire by the time the firefighters arrived, he said.
Mrs Hislop said her first reaction after hearing the fire alarm was one of "holy horror".
She was worried she hadn't properly put out of her last cigarette of the day.
"I thought, ‘Thank goodness, it wasn't my fault'."
Mrs Reeves said firefighters and St John staff had lined the driveway outside with torches to guide residents to safety.
Rest home staff helped to wrap people up in blankets, she said.
"It was very cold, but thank God there was no rain."
Mr Dalton said firefighters used a dry powder on the flames until they could switch the power off and then used a high pressure hose to put the fire out.
St John operations team manager Tony Cronin said no-one required treatment.
Bupa care services care homes general manager Grainne Moss said the residents were all in "good form" yesterday. She praised the staff and emergency services for the quick response.
"The volunteer fire service were very, very helpful . . . responded very quickly and the staff were well supported," she said.
Emergency services were alerted to the fire at 12.36am. Residents were taken to the car park for about 10 minutes before they were given the all clear to return to their rooms.
The laundry is in an isolated part of the building and the only damage, apart from the burnt-out clothes dryer, was some smoke damage around the laundry area, she said.
The fire will be investigated by Bupa property managers and rest home management.It may have been an electrical fault, or the result of a large amount of hot clothes sitting in a bundle in the dryer after the machine cycle had finished.
- The Marlborough Express