Dog dies but man escapes fireball

LUCKY ESCAPE: Fire ripped through this Oxford St house in Timaru.
LUCKY ESCAPE: Fire ripped through this Oxford St house in Timaru.

A Timaru man was lucky to escape with his life after a fire ripped through his Oxford St home early on Saturday, but his dog became a victim of the blaze.

Timaru Fire Service assistant area manager Steven Greenyer said the fire was fully involved when the brigade arrived.

"One person was transported to hospital by St John ambulance with burns to hands and arms, and a dog unfortunately could not escape the flames and perished. The man was transferred from intensive care to a surgical ward on Saturday night.

He was "very lucky" to escape with relatively minor injuries, Mr Greenyer said.

The cause is under investigation, but it was believed the fire started from a gas heater in the lounge.

"The fire has gone through the house very quickly, as the heater has caused a fireball. We think one of the causes may have been the heater did not have a back on it, which means the gas cylinder can fall out."

The fire was extinguished by 16 firefighters wearing breathing apparatus and using multiple low pressure hoses.

The house was extensively damaged throughout the interior with the total loss of everything inside. Mr Greenyer did not know if the house was insured or if there had been fire alarms installed.

Timaru Fire Service had a second early morning call out yesterday when called to the Old Bank Tavern on the corner of Stafford and Church Sts at 3.10am.

Five fire engines in total attended after a small smouldering fire filled the basement with smoke that came through to the bar area.

It was extinguished with one low-pressure hose operated by four firefighters who entered the basement.

"Firefighters used a portable extractor fan to clear the basement and bar area of smoke and removed part of the street step to ensure the fire had not spread," Mr Greenyer said.

"It is believed a cigarette butt has been thrown down and gone down a gap between the steps and on to timber in the basement. This is the second fire since Christmas where a carelessly disposed of cigarette outside a bar nightclub has caused a fire.

"On both occasions it was fortunate that the damage was minor. The provision of suitable containers in areas outside bars would prevent similar incidents in the future where the outcome could be much worse."

The Timaru Herald