Man takes to roof to escape blaze

Baby and caregiver also flee inferno just in time

CHARLES ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 30/06/2014
Avonhead fire
DANIEL TOBIN/ Fairfax NZ

AFTERMATH: A fire caused extensive damage to this Woodbury St, Avonhead, house on Saturday. 

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A 20-year-old Christchurch man escaped a fire in his home by climbing out a window and onto the roof.

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

Christchurch firefighters say the Saturday incident could have easily been a multiple fatality.

The fire, which broke out shortly before 8am on Woodbury St, 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.

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