Onion fry-up ends in house blaze

An Invercargill house was extensively damaged yesterday after it went up in flames as the four occupants were cooking.

Demi Brightwell was in the Grace St house about 5pm when the fire started.

Sobbing, she described what happened.

"We were cooking onion rings and the next thing the deep-fat fryer went up in flames."

Still in her bare feet and clutching her bag, Ms Brightwell said they ran out of the house as fast as they could as her flatmate called the fire service.

She was not sure whether their pets, two cats and two dogs, got out but thought she she saw them scatter from the building.

Traci Hoffman's sister Leeana Small lives in the house.

"The fryer went up in flames and they tried to put it out but the next thing they knew, the back wall went up in flames and they fled the house," Ms Hoffman said.

She said the occupants were young people just starting out in life with their first flat.

They ranged from 17 to 20 years of age, she said.

"At that age you don't think of contents insurance but I am just pleased they all got out safe," she said.

Kingswell station officer Graeme Gilroy said plumes of thick, black smoke were billowing from the house when the fire service arrived with four trucks.

"When we arrived the fire was fully involved at the front and rear of the house and we were not sure if the occupants were still inside, but we now know they are all accounted for" he said.

He said the fire had caused severe damage to the house.

Although the occupants were using a fryer, the cause was yet to be determined, he said.

The street was cordoned off for a few hours as the fire service tackled the blaze. collette.devlin@stl.co.nz

The Southland Times