Smoker dozing off caused fire

00:58, May 23 2014
Stoke fire
BIG BLAZE: Firefighters consider their next move at the house fire in Stoke.

A fire that gutted a Stoke house was caused by the owner smoking inside and falling asleep, a fire investigator says.

Fire risk management officer Craig Piner said the fire started as a result of human error in the lounge that was used as a bedroom.

Emergency services arrived at the Main Rd Stoke house fire at about 4.30pm on Monday.

Craig Piner and Sergeant Blair Hall
GUTTED: Fire Risk Management officer Craig Piner and Sergeant Blair Hall look into the house destroyed by fire on Main Road Stoke.

Investigators believe the fire started as a result of the 73-year-old man smoking and nodding off, he said.

There did not appear to be any alcohol involved.

The man was "quite lucky to get out".

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The man fled the house, where bystanders met him at his back door and assisted him until an ambulance arrived.

He suffered burns to his face and was treated for smoke inhalation.

The man remains in a comfortable condition in Nelson hospital.

The two-bedroom house was uninhabitable, with the lounge gutted and smoke and heat damage to the rest of the house.

The house did not have smoke alarms, and Piner urged the public to install and regularly check smoke alarms.

Smoke alarms saved lives, he said.

Emma Sheppard, who lived directly opposite the burning house, said the man was quiet and kept to himself.

"He does not come out of his house much. We live on a really friendly, social street and I have never really known him."

The Nelson Mail