Family safe as house gutted

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 09/01/2014
Sahizad Mohammed
DEVASTATED: Sahizad Mohammed and his family lost everything in the fire.

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A family have lost everything except the clothes on their backs after a fire ripped through their Invercargill home.

But standing in the drizzle opposite his destroyed home yesterday, owner Sahizad Mohammed said it could have been worse.

He was devastated and in shock but grateful the six members of his family, including relatives from Sydney who were staying at the house, got out alive.

"Everything has been lost," Mr Mohammed said. "My family and guests have nothing but what they are wearing." He was at work when the fire started. His family heard the smoke alarms about 8am and ran outside, with a neighbour taking them in.

Mr Mohammed received a frantic phone call from his tearful wife while he was at work. Surveying the charred remains of his home, he paid tribute to his neighbours who gave his family shelter at a traumatic time. "I loved this house and had done a lot of work by myself to keep it up to a high standard for myself and my family."

Mr Mohammed bought the house, which was insured, two years ago.

Invercargill senior station officer Gordon Rodgers said the smoke alarms had saved the family by giving them enough warning to get out.

The kitchen was on fire but the flames were too big for the family to fight. It appeared someone tried to douse the flames with a garden hose, Mr Rodgers said.

The Tweed St property was well ablaze when firefighters arrived. They were unaware the family had taken refuge with a next-door neighbour, so entered the home to make sure it was empty.

"The front part of the house had smoke and flames coming from it.

"The fire then spread into concealed spaces in the roof and travelled through the house," Mr Rodgers said.

The heat from the fire also damaged a car parked in the driveway next to the front entry where the fire was fiercest. Eight firefighters fought the fire and ripped open parts of the roof to contain the flames, he said.

Fire investigator Mike Cahill said he was still working to determine the cause of the fire.

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- The Southland Times

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