Near miss for fire­fight­ers

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By RHI­AN­NON McCON­NELL

De­spite los­ing ev­ery­thing and hav­ing no in­sur­ance, things could have been a lot worse for three flat­mates whose Pare­mata home burnt down on Satur­day – the fire was me­tres away from a weld­ing kit that if reached could have caused a mas­sive ex­plo­sion.

There is noth­ing but ash and a lucky garage left at the re­mains of the Oak Ave house, but Porirua Fire Bri­gade se­nior sta­tion of­fi­cer David Campbell said his crew was lucky.

An oxy­gen acety­lene weld­ing kit was in the garage under the home and his crew was not aware of it un­til the ten­ants ar­rived home.

‘‘The blast could have gone out straight across the street and taken out the by­standers. We did have to take some pre­cau­tions to make sure it was safe,’’ Campbell said.

When fire fight­ers ar­rived at a Kahu Rd ad­dress at 5pm last Satur­day, they be­lieved they were fight­ing a scrub fire.

It wasn’t un­til a neigh­bour alerted them to the Oak Ave house fire fur­ther down the bank that they re­alised the ex­tent of the sit­u­a­tion.

By the time teams ar­rived at the three-storey home, it was well and truly ablaze and at­ten­tion turned to sav­ing the house next to it.

‘‘The house that was on fire we couldn’t do any­thing with,’’ Campbell said.

‘‘When we got there it was com­pletely en­veloped in fire.

‘‘My con­cern was the house next door. It was very very close to go­ing up in flames.’’

Fire­fight­ers had the added chal­lenge of deal­ing with min­i­mal mains pres­sure when fight­ing the blaze.

They had to drain a nearby back­yard’s 50,000-litre swim­ming pool to get the wa­ter that they needed.

The burnt house’s three ten­ants, Ama­zon store man­ager Bro­gan Hill­stead, floor­ing in­staller Josh Hawkins and fur­ni­ture re­moval truck driver Jeremy Dun­can, were not home at the time of the fire.

Hawkins was thank­ful he had his puppy with him at the time.

The three 25- year- olds, who said they had smoke alarms and fire ex­tin­guish­ers in the house, have no in­sur­ance.

They now face hav­ing to start their lives again.

Dun­can said they were still in shock about how to move on.

‘‘We are try­ing to do what we can sort­ing out ac­com­mo­da­tion and, well, where do you go and what do you do?’’ he said.

‘‘I sup­pose the only lucky thing is we are young enough to start again. If we got into our early 30s it would be a bit harder be­cause we would have more stuff.

‘‘We are still all flat­ting and we don’t have chil­dren to worry about. There are all those small pluses.’’

The flat­mates moved into a tem­po­rary home in Tawa, pro­vided by their prop­erty man­ager.

Campbell said the cause of the fire had not been iden­ti­fied, but de­spite there be­ing an in­crease in house fires in the area, he did not be­lieve it was sus­pi­cious.

‘‘I think they are all sep­a­rate. It’s just the time of year. I don’t think there is an ar­son­ist around,’’ he said.

If you would like to help the three flat­mates re­build their lives, a Give a Lit­tle page has been set up at http://www.givealit­ /cause/21000593.

Lucky find: Fire­fight­ers re­moved an ex­plo­sive weld­ing kit from

the garage.

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