Quick-thinking residents helped save a Nelson house from destruction while the owners were away.
The two-storey timber house in Mt Pleasant Ave was well alight when three Fire Service crews arrived shortly after 10pm last night.
Neighbour Duncan Leask, who was first to the scene, said his daughter's friend who lived on the other side of the hill first spotted the fire and was the first to call fire service.
"I came down to have a look and sure enough, she was ablaze."
He ran up to the house to see if anyone was inside.
The smoke alarms were clearly going off so the owner was either trapped inside or he was not home, he said.
He then went to the neighbours' house directly to the left of the house because the flames were nearing their property. They were not home either, he said.
"The fire services got here in the nick of time because in just five minutes the flames really took off."
Firefighters took about 10 minutes to put out the fire, he said.
A neighbour to the right of the burning property, Zinnia Price, said she could smell the smoke quite clearly.
The 11-year-old was quite frightened as her parents' house was next to it.
The family came down to the bottom of the driveway and could see the flames, although there was more smoke than flames, she said.
Meanwhile, a resident across the road from the burning property, Rosemary Barnes, said she and her partner slept through the initial stages of the fire but were woken by the fire service at 11pm..
She felt sorry for the owner of the property, a man in the engineering sector, because he just had some renovations completed last week.
Two fire crews went into the house to find out if anyone was inside, and put out the fire, station officer Craig Davies said.
Two firefighters searched the lower area where the fire started while another two checked the smoke-filled top storey, but nobody was in the house.
Mr Davies said the owners were away, and police guarded the scene overnight.
Fire safety officers were to investigate the fire today.
"We're not sure at this stage but we suspect it was an electrical problem," he said.
The house was being renovated and has scaffolding around it because of the alterations, he said.
He praised those who called 111, with initial calls coming from the port area.
"It was an extremely good save of the house which can only happen if we get called early.
"About 70 per cent of the house, with all the top storey is saved.
"The vigilance of those people has saved a nice house from total destruction."
Firefighters were at the scene for three and a half hours dampening down the embers.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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