Nelson family loses 29 years memories in shed inferno

Chris Gibbins inspects the remains of his shed, after a fire broke out in the early hours of the morning.
BRADEN FASTIER/FAIRFAX NZ

Chris Gibbins inspects the remains of his shed, after a fire broke out in the early hours of the morning.

A Nelson family has lost 29 years worth of memories after their shed was gutted by fire suspected to have sparked by disposed ash.

Chris Gibbins and his family were woken to the sound of bangs about 4am on Monday as flames tore through their possessions which included a loved blue 1994 ute.

The shed on Weka St in the Wood area was filled with family memorabilia – photo albums, children's toys and work tools from his working years as a bricklayer.

The burnt remains of Chris Gibbins' shed, a '94 Toyota utility truck.
BRADEN FASTIER/FAIRFAX NZ

The burnt remains of Chris Gibbins' shed, a '94 Toyota utility truck.

But the loss of his Toyota truck was the hardest for him.

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He suspected the fire may have been caused by ash from a fireplace he put in a plastic bin outside the shed.

The burnt remains of the Gibbins' shed, after a fire destroyed the structure that was directly beside the house.
BRADEN FASTIER/FAIRFAX NZ

The burnt remains of the Gibbins' shed, after a fire destroyed the structure that was directly beside the house.

The bin caught fire and went up underneath the roller door of the shed and spread from there.

Gibbins said he always dampened it down with water "but this time it couldn't have been enough".

"I lost the fridge, the chainsaw, my car, a lot of gear . . . all my daughter's gear stored in the back of the shed. That's all gone," he said.

"I heard a bang, banging going off. I came out and that was it. We tried to ring the fire brigade but they were already here."

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The flames were above the roof when Gibbins was woken by the sounds of gas containers, paint tins and turps containers exploding.

"It was already gone. It amazed me."

He said the fire brigade did a "bloody good job" of containing the fire to the shed which was built right up against the side of the house.

Only a small char marked the top corner of the house roof.

His daughter Asher and wife Lorraine were home at the time. Gibbins said they were all "pretty shaken up".

Asher said the destruction was "really sad" because the shed was used as the family's main storage unit with childhood things and furniture of her sister's who was currently living overseas.  

"The car was like his baby. He's had it forever and just looked after it like you wouldn't believe."

She said they were just thankful the house was intact and everyone was safe.

"Mum wants to know if there's anything salvageable in the fridge. Maybe some smoked fish?"

Nelson senior station officer Darren Shackleton said they'd received a "lot of calls" just before 4am.

He said the fire was in a 6-by-6 metre shed, and four firefighters had attended the blaze.

"It took them about half an hour [to get the fire down]," Shackleton said.

Nelson Fire Service senior station officer Craig Davies said if people were disposing of fireplace ashes, they needed to leave them outside in a steel container for three to four days.

He said the ashes needed to cool completely before they were disposed of.

"Don't put them on the deck, don't put them on anything that is flammable at all."

 - Stuff

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