Cherished home burns to rubble

RACHEL THOMAS
Last updated 05:00 04/08/2014
Morrinsville fire
CHRIS HILLCOCK/ Fairfax NZ

REDUCED TO RUBBLE: A woman in her 70s was lucky to escape this Morrinsville house as fire ripped through it on Saturday.

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Fire singed hairs on a woman's head as she evacuated her beloved home just before flames consumed it.

The fire service said the woman, aged in her 70s, was lucky to escape her home during the fire on Saturday afternoon, but her beloved dog was still unaccounted for yesterday.

The woman was upstairs when the blaze broke out on the bottom storey of her two-level brick and fibrolite home in Te Puninga, 11 kilometres north of Morrinsville, about 1.30pm.

Smoke alarms sounded, but fire safety investigator Peter Hallet said strange noises and the smell of smoke alerted the woman to the fire.

"Potentially the fire developed down below and she has been unaware of it," Hallet said. He suspects the fire began due to an electrical fault.

One of the woman's two dogs escaped, however the other remains unaccounted for. Hallet said the woman was "very fortunate" to escape when she did. The woman suffered moderate injuries and was taken to Waikato Hospital and treated for minor smoke inhalation.

"Given a minute or less we would have been sitting out here doing a whole different story. We could have been looking at something much worse."

The woman was still dealing with the trauma of the fire yesterday when Hallet returned to the scene.

Morrinsville, Tahuna and Te Aroha stations responded to the first call, then Tahuna returned to douse a flare-up shortly after 7pm.

Hallet said the site was still unsafe for crews to enter yesterday. "I would suggest the dog is inside somewhere, or it may have run off."

Hallet could not confirm if other people lived in the house with the woman, but believed she was the only person home at the time.

The property is surrounded by a deer farm with just one house next door. Hallet said the incident highlighted the importance of having smoke alarms in place to ensure early warnings saved those inside from danger.

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- Waikato Times

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