Man burnt trying to fight house fire

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 24/07/2013

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Fire authorities are reminding people to "get out and stay out" after a man was burnt in a house fire in Paretai, south of Balclutha, early yesterday.

The owner of a house in Koau Rd suffered the burns when he tried to go back into a room and fight a fire that was well alight.

Southland area fire investigator Paul Glanville said the owner of the house was woken about 1.15am by the sound of fire.

The man went outside but there was no sign of flames.

He then opened the door of a room attached to a carport and found the door handle was hot, Mr Glanville said.

"He grabbed a fire extinguisher and opened the door slightly and the room was fully involved in fire."

The fire from the attached room quickly spread to the rest of the house, Mr Glanville said.

"It was an old house with a high fireload because of the tongue and groove timber lining of the property."

The external walls and roof remained standing after the fire but the house was a total loss, he said.

The cause of the fire was being investigated.

There was a heater, fridge and freezer in the room where the fire started but there did not appear to be a problem with the electrical components, he said.

The fire service wanted to remind people not to put themselves in danger by attempting to fight a fire themselves.

"The owner decided to go back into the fire when it was dark and sustained burns, so the message is get out and stay out," Mr Glanville said.

Balclutha station officer Michael Harris, who attended the fire, said all the house occupants were accounted for when fire crews arrived.

"It looks like one of the occupants tried to put the fire out with a fire extinguisher but it got too big," Mr Harris said.

The person was treated by St John Ambulance at the scene.

The house was well alight when fire crews arrived, Mr Harris said.

Fire engines from Balclutha were reinforced by the Kaitangata and Clutha Valley volunteer fire brigades.

Firefighters in breathing apparatus entered the house but could not prevent the fire from destroying about 90 per cent of the home, he said.

Crews remained at the house until 7.30am.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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