Invercargill family traumatised after house fire

HANNAH MCLEOD
Last updated 20:03 01/02/2014
House fire in Lithgow St
HANNAH MCLEOD/Fairfax NZ
TOO HOT: A firefighter dampens down hot spots after a house fire in Lithgow St, Invercargill.

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A child has been taken to hospital suffering from mild smoke inhalation after a house fire in Invercargill tonight. 

The Invercargill fire service was called to a house fire in Lithgow St at about 6pm.

Invercargill senior station officer John Gilder said the weatherboard building was well ablaze when they arrived.

The building is a block of three two-storey units, and the fire started on the second floor of the middle unit, Mr Gilder said.

"There was a lot of flames flicking out those windows."

"Smoke and charring was starting to penetrate the adjoining walls of the unit, two or three minutes longer and the building would have been fully involved."

"The entire building was occupied, the lady who lives in the centre unit is quite traumatised," he said.

It was not known how the fire started, or whether the building had working smoke alarms. 

Fire investigators had been called in, he said.

All of the occupants were out of the building when fire services arrived.

Nadia Molloy, who lives opposite the house, said the fire started in her cousin's home.

"I heard her screaming and I came outside and saw all these flames pouring out the window."

"The children are very upset, she's a solo mum with five children," Ms Molloy said.

Her cousin was already out of the building when Ms Molloy went rushing across the street to help.

"I went next door and helped the elderly gentleman get out," she said.

Ms Molloy said minutes after the alarm was raised, the community was out offering a helping hand.

"They've already been offered rooms for the night," she said.

Four fire engines attended the scene, two each from Invercargill and Kingswell fire stations, as well as 16 firefighters. 

Three teams of firefighters entered the building in full breathing apparatus, while another team remained on standby.

Most of Lithgow St was cordoned off to traffic. 

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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