Neighbour's action limits fire damage

Motueka flat goes up in flames

ALASTAIR PAULIN
Last updated 11:53 05/12/2012
motueka fire
ALASTAIR PAULIN/FAIRFAX NZ
EXTENSIVE DAMAGE: A kitchen fire in a flat in Tudor St, Motueka, caused widespread damage on Tuesday afternoon.

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A Motueka woman is grateful to her neighbour who rushed into her burning kitchen to save her house, but the fire brigade would not advise others to do the same.

Tracy Mowat's downstairs flat in Motueka's Tudor St went up in flames yesterday afternoon about 2.45pm. No-one was home at the time and it appeared the fire was caused by something left cooking on the stove, said Mike Riddell, the chief fire officer of the Motueka Volunteer Fire Brigade.

Ms Mowat lives with her three teenage children and a cousin and she said they all "swear black and blue" they did not leave a pot of oil on a hot element.

Her upstairs neighbours smelled smoke and while one of them grabbed their baby and got out of the building, his partner "bowled down, grabbed a hose and bowled into the kitchen with it and got the fire down to smouldering before the fire engines arrived", Ms Mowat said.

The upstairs neighbours did not want to talk to the Nelson Mail this morning.

Mr Riddell said the kitchen was severely damaged and there was smoke damage in the rest of the flat.

"The ceiling in the kitchen is like black gumboots - it's black soot. The kitchen windows blew out -that's how hot it was. It actually flashed over," Mr Riddell said. He estimated the cost of the damage at $10,000.

"The damaged was limited by the efforts of a neighbour who did a good job but we don't encourage people to enter burning buildings," he said. Smoke alarms would have given earlier warning that would have prevented a lot of the damage, Mr Riddell said.

Ms Mowat said she was at a friend's house celebrating a mate's birthday when she got a call from her 19-year-old son about the fire.

She spent the night with friends and said she was thankful to all the family and friends who have offered help and to the fire brigade, "who were brilliant". She also thanked the SPCA for taking in her five cats and two litters of kittens.

Her landlord has offered another flat in Riwaka, but she will not be accepting the offer. She had contents insurance and was working with her insurance company to assess damage this morning.

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