An Invercargill man's hair was singed when he and his family of five fled their burning home after a near-new electric blanket caught fire early on Saturday morning.
The relieved father was left wondering yesterday how the electric blanket, which was less than a year old, could burst into flames and put his family at risk.
It was the second time in less than a month an electric blanket has ignited in an Invercargill home, with the previous incident in Janet St resulting in a 9-year-old girl burning her back.
The weekend's incident in Frome St has left the homeowner vowing never to let his family use an electric blanket again.
"We'll never have another electric blanket in our house again. It's probably still under warranty for all I know, but you wouldn't have thought something like that could happen," he said.
The queen-sized electric blanket had been turned on, on one side, for just a couple of hours when the fire was discovered by the man's partner.
The family's three children were asleep and no-one was in the bedroom at the time, with the family escaping without injury.
But the man rushed back into the burning house to turn the power on when he realised the cordless phone he had grabbed to call 111 would not work without it.
He had been given "an early haircut" as he left the house, when the bedroom window next to the front door blew out, singeing the hair on the back of his head.
Invercargill fire station officer Duane Shannon said people should not go back into a burning house. "Once you're out, you stay out, and if your phone doesn't work then go to your neighbours."
Four appliances and six firefighters in breathing apparatus from the Kingswell station attended the fire at 12.11am.
The bedroom was well ablaze when they arrived. Smoke filled the house and there had been a lot of heat but it was well under control within 10 minutes, Mr Shannon said.
Firefighters said the fire caused 20 per cent damage to the house, which was insured, but the homeowner said he believed it would need to be rebuilt.
Mr Shannon said it was uncommon for electric blankets to ignite, but people should get them checked every year before winter.
He warned people to roll electric blankets up when storing them away, rather than folding them, to protect the wiring and heavy objects should never be placed on a bed when the electric blanket was turned on.
- The Southland Times
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