Cat saves owner from house fire
A Westport man could have died when his house caught fire early today if his cat had not woken him.
The Peel St house caught fire about 12.10am while the man was sleeping.
Westport Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Pat O'Dea said the middle-aged man was woken by his cat and managed to escape through a front-bedroom window.
His cat did not manage to escape.
The fire started in the back part of the house, which was "well and truly in a demolishable state".
Flames were shooting above the roof by the time firefighters arrived, O'Dea said.
The blaze was put out quickly, and firefighters had to remove two small LPG bottles from inside the house.
A small amount of live ammunition was found in the front of the house, but the fire had not reached that area, O'Dea said.
The man had been drying kindling above a coal range and it was believed the fire started when the wood fell on to the stove.
The house was not insured and no smoke alarms were installed.
"The only message I will keep on saying is for God's sake, put in smoke alarms," O'Dea said.
"If the cat hadn't woken him, he might have ended up with the cat."
Meanwhile, a fire that ''almost completely'' destroyed a Christchurch flat is believed to be suspicious.
Firefighters were called to a flat in Leyden St, Phillipstown, about 1.30am today after receiving several calls.
A Fire Service spokesman said the blaze was ''well involved'' when firefighters arrived.
The fire began in one of three adjoining flats on the property, but the other two flats were not damaged.
Fire-safety officer Graeme Reid said power was switched off to one of the other flats as a precaution.
The fire had destroyed the back flat ''almost completely'' and was believed to be suspicious.
Reid said the flat was being rented, but no-one was at home at the time of the fire.
Police were investigating, he said.