Fire leaves young family homeless

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 05/07/2014
John St house fire
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ
AFTERMATH: The scene outside the John St house after a fire ripped through it yesterday afternoon.

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A young family was left homeless yesterday after a fire ripped through their Riverton home.

Fire crews from throughout the area rushed to the John St property about 3.30pm after multiple calls to emergency services.

By the time the Riverton volunteer firefighters arrived the house was well ablaze, Invercargill fire service assistant area commander Julian Tohiariki said.

Backup was called for and the five crews worked quickly to get the house fire under control.

The fire appeared to have started in a back bedroom and spread through the rest of the house, damaging 70 per cent of the property.

Fire crews spent hours damping down hot spots but there were no obvious clues as to how it started, he said.

Tohiariki said no one had been home at the time, which was "very fortunate".

"It's just a young family with three young kids, I guess now when nobody is home was the best time to have it."

When the family arrived at the scene, they were understandably upset, he said.

Firefighters rescued some of their possessions as they damped down hotspots.

Friends and relatives of the family cradled treasured possessions, such as photo albums, in the persistent rain as the family tried to salvage what they could from the charred house.

Tohiariki said the firefighters tried to get as much out as possible but all the bedrooms had been extensively damaged.

Meanwhile, a young Winton couple were forced to flee their home when a fire ripped through it about 7.20 last night.

A neighbour of the Queen St property said the owners came running over as the fire took hold.

"They told us their house was on fire," the neighbour said. "It is a terrible thing to happen. Everybody knows their neighbours in Winton."

The brick and roughcast building was still standing but the inside was badly smoke and water damaged, the neighbour said.

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