Near miss for firefighters
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.givealittle.co.nz/ /cause/21000593.
Lucky find: Firefighters removed an explosive welding kit from