Intense fire prompts evacuations

FIREBALL: Investigators believe a shed fire in Rawhiti Ave this morning is not suspicious.
FIREBALL: Investigators believe a shed fire in Rawhiti Ave this morning is not suspicious.

Neighbours fled their houses as a Palmerston North shed turned into a huge ball of flame in the early hours of this morning.

The fire on Rawhiti Ave, near Ferguson St, began just before 1.40am and quickly became fully engulfed, forcing sleeping neighbours in the predominantly student area of town to evacuate into the street.

Two fire engines from the Palmerston North Fire Station arrived at the scene shortly after and quickly doused the flames.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined but was not thought to be deliberately lit, senior station fire officer Malcolm Prince said.

"It just doesn't feel like it could have been," he said.

"There's a bunch of cardboard stacked up on the other side of the house so if it was suspicious you would think they would have had a go at that too."

A male occupant of the house, who did not want to be named, said he was sleeping after returning home from a 17-hour shift a few hours before the fire started.

The fire had not destroyed anything with a high monetary value, but the building had been filled with items of personal value, he said.

Standing in dressing gowns outside as rain came down, neighbours Lauren Knighton, Sophie Lyall and Daniella Clancy described the shock.

Lyall said she first thought the flashing orange glare at her window was police lights.

When a window smashed in the shed she thought it was a bottle smashing, but when people began yelling that it was a fire she knew she had to get out.

Daniella Clancy said she was woken by the sound of someone screaming "holy s***, there's a fire".

She went outside, saw the shed engulfed and started saying similar words herself, she said.

Manawatu Standard