Cancelled trip saves Mataura home

Last updated 14:06 23/06/2014

SlideshowMataura, Southland

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House fires in the south over the past few days have claimed one life and injured two others, while the decision to cancel a trip saved a Mataura man's home from major damage. How fresh are the batteries in your smoke alarms?

I check them regularly

The batteries are changed to coincide with Daylight Saving time

I've disconnected my smoke alarms because they were beeping to indicate they needed new batteries

I don't have smoke alarms

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A man's decision to cancel his planned trip to Gore has saved his family home in the Southland town of Mataura.

Les Gray was about to head to Gore but decided at 11.45am that it was too late in the day. It was a decision he said saved his house from burning to the ground.

"I was sitting in the lounge with the fire going when I noticed smoke coming from the ceiling," Gray said.

Soon the smoke was replaced by flames near where the flue entered the roof.

Gray leapt into action, calling 111 before quelling the flames with jugs of water.

The change of plans and quick response by firefighters mean there is some damage to the roof and no power but the house Les and his wife Rita have called home for 45 years is still standing.

Initial indications pointed to faulty wiring in the roof as the cause of the fire. "We had the chimney and flue cleaned before winter and the burnt area is near the wiring," Gray said.

Mataura station officer Mark Witham said the house could have gone up in flames if no one was home.

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- The Southland Times

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