MP grabs papers as fire threatens

19:38, Jun 23 2013
Paula Bennett
PAULA BENNETT: "I grabbed my Cabinet papers. I seriously did."

A house fire has helped Paula Bennett solve the age-old question: "What would I save?" but the social development minister seems slightly aghast at the answer.

"Me being the kind of diligent person I am, I'm kind of disturbed today to think back that of all the things I could have grabbed in my 30 seconds I grabbed my Cabinet papers. I seriously did," she said yesterday after a fire early yesterday morning briefly threatened to engulf her house.

"I didn't think we were going to lose the house but I decided there would be a heck of a lot of people traipsing through it," she said.

"They are highly confidential!"

Bennett said she was with her husband in the Waitakere house when the fire broke out just before 3am and the fire alarm went off. His 12-year-old son had been staying at a friend's house.

"We are feeling very lucky. The house was filled with . . . really thick black smoke."

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When they ran downstairs they thought it was an electrical fire because there were flames coming from the corner of the lounge behind the television, so they were reluctant to throw water on it.

They put the fire out using towels and a hose after it burnt through both sides of the wall and set a woodshed alight.

Firefighters thought the fire could have started from old embers in the fireplace.

Bennett said the house was still liveable although it was smelly and covered in soot. "It was scary at the time but we didn't lose anything personal and what was lost was insured and replaceable."

The Dominion Post