Body found in Nelson house destroyed by fire
Police have confirmed a body has been found in the home destroyed in an early morning Nelson blaze.
Senior Sergeant Blair Hall of Nelson said the formal identification process was yet to take place.
"Due to the severity of the fire the process of a formal identification could take a number of days," he said.
"We've notified the family."
Further details of the person found in the house would not be released until the identification process was complete, he said.
Sergeant Gus Carlsson said two people were known to live in the house, they were believed to be in their mid-70s.
One of the pair, a man, was safe and well. "We're still looking at locating the second resident," he said.
The man was not at the scene at the time of the fire.
Carlsson was unable release any detail about the missing person or the cause of the fire.
The fire gutted the single-storey house on Main Rd, Stoke.
Carlsson said the remains of the house were dangerous to enter. The once white stucco house was still smouldering.
"The roof is gone – collapsed," he said.
Firefighters were called to the house shortly after 4am on Wednesday. When they arrived the house was well ablaze.
Initially, the two people who usually occupied the home were unaccounted for.
"There is a possibility they may be in the debris, or they may not have been home at the time. We do not know," Fire Service southern communications shift manager Brent Dunn said.
Carlsson said police and photographers would examine the scene alongside the Fire Service and fire investigators.
"It's a very difficult scene and it will take a couple of days to work through."
"Our thoughts are with the family at this stage."
A family of three in a neighbouring house called the fire brigade just after 4am.
The property owner said he believed a man and woman lived in the home, but they were "private people".
He saw the man fetch a newspaper on Monday, but did not see him yesterday.
He said the brightness of the blaze woke him.
"I could feel the heat [of the fire] when I went outside," he said.
He said the property was "like a jungle".
It took about two hours to contain the flames with five crews including tankers from Richmond, Stoke and Nelson.
Police were sifting through the debris and an investigation was under way to determine where the pair were when the fire took hold. It was possible they were not in the house overnight, he said.
Andrew Norris, a Fire Service spokesman, said a "complete overhauling process" had begun.
"After a house fire, the house collapses and it all just falls down so you've got piles upon piles of burnt materials that you've got to move."
He said while the debris was being moved and embers were extinguished, crews had to be very careful so as not to damage evidence as the cause of the blaze remained unknown.
"It's a very long and delicate process," Norris said.
The house appeared to be a 1950s "stucco" building that was heavily furnished and surrounded by a mass of trees, he said.
Nelson Fire Station senior station officer Craig Davies said police were taking scene photographs and crews were currently assessing if the structure was safe to enter.
Davies said the first crew to arrive had difficulty locating the building and did a fantastic job to find the building as quickly as they did.
Search crews would remain at the property until the missing pair were found. Their ages and genders were not immediately known.
The fire was escalated to a "second alarm" when firefighters arrived. Four engines from Stoke, Richmond and Nelson were called in.
Neighbour Leroy Bull woke to the sound of fire trucks racing past his home. He rushed outside as smoke billowed from the property on the back section.
"When it first started you couldn't smell barely anything, as of now it has come down quite low and now I can smell it inside my house, which is just across the road."
"As of this moment it's very smoky."
Flames could not be seen from the road, but the thick smoke filled the street and made it difficult to breathe, he said.
Bull said he did not know who lived in the property.
He said he could still see smoke coming from the section three hours after the blaze started.
Initial reports were people were involved however fire crews and police have been unable to make contact with those people, Davies said.
Toxic smoke is trapped beneath low lying cloud filtering down over Main Rd Stoke which is expected to hang over the area until noon.
Davies asked residents to stay indoors especially if they suffer from asthma, and said surrounding businesses would remain closed for the day.
The fire was under control by 6am. Crews remained at the scene dampening down hot spots.
A fire investigator would examine the cause of the fire.