Blowtorch wrecks renovation plans
A wayward blowtorch flame sparked a fire that ripped through the walls and ceiling of an old two-storey villa overlooking the Waikato River on Sunday.
Firefighters from Ngaruawahia, Huntly, Chartwell, Pukete, Te Kauwhata and Te Akau fought the blaze for more than three hours from about 3pm with water supplied by three tankers.
The villa was recently moved to its Hakarimata Rd location on the western bank of the river at Ngaruawahia and was in the process of being refurbished.
Fire risk management officer Ross Fleet said the fire was accidental.
"The occupier was stripping some paint from the building using a blowtorch, which is common practice among painters and unfortunately the flame from the blowtorch, I suspect, has gone up under the weather boards and set fire to something like a bird's nest," he said.
"There's no remains of that discovered but it's pretty much what happened."
He said people needed to take care when renovating homes using an open flame.
One person suffered smoke inhalation and eye irritation during the fire and was treated at the scene.
Mr Fleet considered the firefighters' action as "a really good save".
"There's potential with a 100-year-old for the whole lot to burn. It's built out of good solid native New Zealand timber and we know what good firewood that makes."
He said the Ngaruawahia Volunteer Fire Brigade did a really good job controlling and extinguishing the fire.
The home was probably salvageable, he said.
"My experience in those kinds of fires is the fire was predominantly in the wall and ceiling space of the upper level. It's caused a lot of damage at roof line but there's no damage to the lower and upper part of the building."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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