House fire in Blenheim
Children's clothes on fire on the washing lineGERMARI HERSELMAN
A woman and her three young children ran to safety as flames ripped through their home in Henderson St, Blenheim.
The fire created a dramatic scene just after 1pm yesterday. It sent flames and smoke high into the air, and created loud crackling and popping noises which could be heard in surrounding streets.
Neighbour Anthony McKenzie said he rushed to help and saw the woman and her children emerging from the smoke.
"We live two houses down and smelt the fire. Seconds later we could hear its roar and loud crackling and popping. It was a matter of minutes and it all went up."
The family were upset but seemed to be fine, he said. They were taken to hospital by ambulance.
Stephanie Stratton saw the smoke from down the road and ran to see if she could help.
"We saw small children's clothes on fire on the washing line and my heart jumped, realising there were children in the house. It was such an eerie image. Minutes later, the whole house seemed to be on fire," she said.
Blenheim and Renwick volunteer fire crews worked on putting out the fire, which was fanned by strong winds and threatened the house of neighbour Debbie Farry.
Ms Farry said she was not at home when the fire started but rushed back after a friend rang saying it was her house burning.
"I was so relieved to see it wasn't my house, but then felt bad for being relieved as my neighbour lost everything. She only moved in about a month ago."
Blenheim chief fire officer Rob Dalton said the fire spread through the whole house before it was brought under control.
"Part of the roof collapsed while the firemen were inside, but thankfully they all seem to be fine," he said.
Smoke and ash blew across Henderson St and along Gardiner St.
A big crowd of onlookers gathered to watch the fire, but firefighters moved them away from the smoke because of concerns there might be asbestos in the roof.
"We were concerned about asbestos in the old corrugated-style roof. It is only dangerous when dry and we have managed to wet it all and it will be disposed of properly if it is asbestos," Mr Dalton said.
He had an idea of how the fire started, but needed to investigate.
A police officer said the woman who lived in the house was understandably upset and she and the children were taken to hospital. The children are all believed to be aged under seven.
- The Marlborough Express