Librarians take action as car erupts

FIGHTING FIRE: Librarian Michelle Cunningham holds the tub she used to help put out a car fire.
FIGHTING FIRE: Librarian Michelle Cunningham holds the tub she used to help put out a car fire.

Two Invercargill librarians found themselves fighting a fire instead of returning books to shelves yesterday.

Librarian Michelle Cunningham and archivist Rebecca Smith were on their lunch break in the staff room when they heard someone calling out.

They initially thought the shouts were coming from the enthusiastic crowds watching buskers perform in Wachner Place. However, the calls became louder and more audible.

"We heard the person shouting, ‘fire, fire', so ran to investigate," Mrs Cunningham said.

When they got into Picadilly Place, they saw a car on fire. "A lady was trying to put out a fire with a little jar of water," Mrs Cunningham said.

"Rebecca and I got one of our big bins from the library and filled it up with water to throw on the fire."

They helped the woman get her dog out of the car and called the fire brigade.

Staff members from Speight's Ale House were also on the scene quickly and put the fire out with fire extinguishers.

Mrs Cunningham said the woman told her the car had been idling when flames burst from behind the steering wheel.

"It's a bit scary. Cars are not supposed to do that," she said.

Mrs Cunningham said she and Ms Smith just did what anyone else would have done.

It was not every day a librarian had to fight a fire, she said.

Sally Crimp, who owned the car, told The Southland Times she suffered burns to her right hand and right leg. She did not know how the fire started, but was told it was an electrical fault.

Invercargill station officer John Gilder said the blaze was out when firefighters arrived, but crew members remained on site to ensure it did not flare up.

He confirmed a woman was treated for minor burns and taken by ambulance to Southland Hospital.

The Southland Times