Occupants flee burning home

FORCED TO FLEE: A Christchurch man climbed onto the roof of this Woodbury St house to escape a fire.
FORCED TO FLEE: A Christchurch man climbed onto the roof of this Woodbury St house to escape a fire.

A 20-year-old man opened his bedroom door this morning to find a fire blazing in the hallway which forced him to escape through his window and onto the roof of his Christchurch home.

Downstairs, his caregiver and a 20-month-old baby also managed to escape unharmed.

Christchurch firefighters are saying the incident could have easily been a multiple fatality.

The fire, which broke out shortly before 8am this morning on Woodbury St in the Christchurch suburb of Avonhead, was "well involved" when firefighters arrived.

Fire safety officer Kelvin Hampton said it appeared the fire was accidental but stressed the importance of having smoke alarms in the home.

All three occupants were taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

Hampton said the man awoke in his bedroom and opened the door to see smoke and fire pouring through the hallway.

He could not see through the smoke, Hampton said.

The man quickly shut the door and managed to escape out the window, across the roof of the house and to the safety of a neighbouring property.

"Closing the door quickly saved his life. It gave him a bit of extra time to get out. We could have been dealing with a multiple fatality today," Hampton said.

When firefighters were called not all members of the household were accounted for. The fire spread from the ground floor to the first floor, but Hampton did not want to speculate what caused it before all investigations were complete.

The 20-month-old child and the caregiver also had a door closed to the lounge they were in which gave them time to escape.

Hampton said 80 per cent of people who die in residential households were in homes that did not an active smoke alarm. Firefighters would install smoke alarms for free if they had been purchased by the household, he said.

Correction: An earlier version of the story reported the three people were trapped; a subsequent report indicates all three were accounted for before firefighters arrived.

The Press