Narrow escape from fire

MARYKE PENMAN
Last updated 11:54 17/02/2014
House Fire
MARYKE PENMAN/Fairfax NZ

GUTTED: The living room of this one bedroom flat in Birkenhead, Auckland has been destroyed by fire.

Birkenhead Fire
MARYKE PENMAN Zoom
UNRECOGNISABLE: The living room of this one bedroom flat in Birkenhead has been destroyed by fire.

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Tenants of an Auckland block of flats were still shaken today after scrambling to rescue each other when the building went up in flames last night.

Fire broke out in a Housing NZ flat on the ground level of eight adjoining apartments in Waratah St, Birkenhead about 11pm.

Birkenhead Fire station officer Grant Mitcheson said the tenant of the one-bedroom home was with a friend in a neighbouring flat when the smoke alarm went off.

She and the other residents went outside to investigate and found the entire downstairs area engulfed in fire and smoke, he said.

A neighbouring tenant said they rushed to make sure everyone had evacuated their flats before calling for

help.

"It has really shaken me because I was running around trying to make sure everybody was all right when the windows blew," the tenant said.

"I realised if it had been a split second later the glass would've sprayed right into me."

The glass windows of the upstairs and downstairs apartments blew out and the metal framing was warped from the heat.

A woman living in the flat next to the fire was asleep when the blaze began.

"We were banging on her door trying to wake her up but she didn't hear us," the neighbour said.

Other tenants had to smash the front window to get her out.

Mitcheson said the entire ground-level flat is burnt out and the upstairs residence has about 20 per cent damage.

A fire safety investigator was today working to determine a cause.

The smoke alarm in the upstairs flat was still beeping almost 12 hours after it was first set off.

Mitcheson said four fire engines were sent after the Fire Service received multiple calls and reports of people trapped.

He said everyone got out safely and there were no injuries.

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- North Shore Times

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