Fire ravages vacant house

PENNY WARDLE
Last updated 08:45 26/11/2012
Picton fire
Jared Nicoll

Gutted: Christmas tinsel is unscathed by the fire that ripped through this Waikawa house just after midnight yesterday

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A vacant wooden villa in Waikawa Rd, Picton was gutted by fire in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Senior station officer with the Picton Volunteer Fire Brigade, Wayne Wytenburg, said 17 firefighters attended the blaze, which was visible from about two kilometres away.

A firefighter living close to the burning house at 261 Waikawa Rd responded first in his own vehicle. By the time fire crews arrived about 12.20am, the roof had collapsed and flames were pouring out of the windows.

Police were forced to arrest a neighbour who was trying to fight the fire with a hose, Mr Wytenburg said. He meant well but was endangering himself and the firefighters, and refused to leave when asked.

"I can understand being rash in the heat of the moment, but when safety is involved and they have been warned, this is not acceptable."

A cavity between the original ceiling and a drop ceiling made it difficult to check whether the fire was under control, Mr Wytenburg said.

Two fire engines from Picton and one from Blenheim were at the blaze but a new Picton engine failed to start because of an electrical fault, and had to be left behind.

Police also attended the fire and were investigating its cause, Mr Wytenburg said.

At 12.45pm yesterday, the Picton brigade was called out to Waikawa Rd again, this time to a car crash a few hundred metres from the burned house.

The woman driver was travelling towards the centre of Picton when she missed a corner and hit a concrete driveway post at low speed, resulting in oil leaking on to the road, Mr Wytenburg said. Neither the driver nor her girl passenger were seriously injured.

Volunteer firefighters and police lifted the car out of the way of traffic and applied grit to the road.

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- The Marlborough Express

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