Non-com­pli­ant multi-fuel fires caused blazes


Builders fail­ing to in­stall mul­ti­fuel fire­places to New Zealand safety stan­dards are re­spon­si­ble for a spate of house fires around the Wakatipu basin, the fire ser­vice says.

Fire In­ves­ti­ga­tor for Fire and Emer­gency New Zealand, Cen­tral North Otago, Stu Ide is warn­ing home­own­ers who have multi-fuel fire­places with en­clo­sures to check they are com­pli­ant, fol­low­ing a fire in Queen­stown early Sun­day morn­ing.

At 3.30am a fam­ily on hol­i­day in Queen­stown was alerted to the fire at the Quail Rise hol­i­day home af­ter a baby in the bed­room started cough­ing from the smoke.

The fire had started be­hind the fire­place, in the en­clo­sure where the flue was run­ning up through the ceil­ing, he said.

‘‘In the last 12 months around the Wakatipu we have had three of these. It is due to an in­stal­la­tion de­fi­ciency. Peo­ple are not in­stalling fire­places to the New Zealand stan­dard.’’

Fire­places were re­quired to be in­stalled to a stan­dard that al­lowed for a min­i­mum of 25 x 25 x 25mm clear­ances to be away from the flue, he said.

‘‘When us­ing this method there must be an air flow from be­tween the sec­ond shield and be­tween the first shield and flue. This air flow must vent to the out­side and nor­mally al­lows the hot air to vent above the chase - the dec­o­ra­tive sur­round of the me­tal flue - and be­low the cowl­ing. What we are cur­rently see­ing is the tim­ber be­ing against or very close to the first shield. Even­tu­ally a fire in the chim­ney cav­ity will oc­cur. The times can vary be­fore this hap­pens.’’

Home­own­ers who have mul­ti­fuel fire­places with en­clo­sures should get in touch with the per­son who in­stalled their fire­place to ask if they built it to New Zea-

‘‘It is only a small step from get­ting away with it to it be­ing a fa­tal­ity.’’

land stan­dard, and con­tact their in­sur­ance com­pany, he said.

‘‘They need to have a look. These peo­ple got away with it but it is only a small step from get­ting away with it to it be­ing a fa­tal­ity.

‘‘I don’t want to alarm peo­ple but the scary thing about these fires is that when it gets into the roof you don’t know you have a fire above your head. It isn’t like when you have a fire in the house. It is in an­other space. It is in a void above you and you have got a fire rac­ing away, likely to come ca­reer­ing down through the ceil­ing and that is the first you would know about it.’’


The Jack’s Point Club­house fire started in a chim­ney.

A fire broke out in a chim­ney en­clo­sure af­ter it was not in­stalled prop­erly.

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