'Bizarre' fire a warning

A fire at a home on Annesbrook Drive yesterday was started by sunlight being concentrated through a decorative glass ball on a windowsill.

Stoke deputy fire chief Tane Simpson said the small fire in a semi-detached bedroom began just before noon. The fire service ruled out the possibility of an electrical fire as the locked room had no power connected to it, and nobody had been inside for weeks.

"They had decorative crystals on the windowsill - [it was] just the way the sun caught them. There was some soft goods in the area, a cane basket and silk scarves [which caught alight]."

Simpson said fire crews from Nelson and Stoke stations attended, and a hose reel was used to contain the fire.

He praised the house's occupants for their good job, and said they did the right thing by not opening any of the doors. Fire damage to the room was minimal, although it had sustained some smoke damage.

Neighbour Ross Woodhouse said he noticed the fire after he heard the smoke alarms go off.

"It was a lot of black, smelly smoke. Not something you really want."

Nelson Fire Service station officer Darren Shackleton said it was a "really bizarre" fire that would serve as a reminder to be careful in the placement of glass or crystal ornaments.

"They are a safe item but if you put them in a position on a window - the sun's rays are quite strong in Nelson.

Nelson firefighters had two other unusual callouts yesterday. They went to a house in Washington Valley after aromatherapy oil left in a dish on top of a woodburner vaporised, making the occupant think the house was full of smoke.

They also joined Hira's volunteer crew in extracting a 100kg calf from a bog in Lud Valley.

"We did a joint exercise of how to carry a calf up a hill," Shackleton said. "About 10 of us."