Two families escape home-destorying fires
A South Waikato family managed to escape an inferno via a side door as fire exploded through the windows of their home.
More than four hours was spent extinguishing a blaze that ripped through the Tokoroa home overnight on Tuesday last week after a tea light left burning in a child’s room sparked the fire. The house-destroying fire was the first of three that happened in Tokoroa in the space of one week.
Michelle Popata said she only knew something was wrong when she was woken-up by her daughter about 10.20pm.
Within 20 seconds the family home was up in flames.
‘‘We were asleep and by the time we got out the flames were down the hallway where my other children’s room is so while we were going through the flames we came out I ran down to wake my family down stairs,’’ she said.
Nine people were inside the split level house, including four children.
The family were standing on the footpath in their pyjamas and barefeet as fire crew battled the Arthur Stblaze in Tokoroa.
Fire crews managed to save the family car but Popata’s partner Richard only had time to grab his phone to ring for help.
They lost all their processions in the fire.
‘‘And before you know it the whole thing was up, it was so fast...it was like get out grab the kids.’’
Smoke alarms were in the house and Tokoroa Volunteer Fire Chief Dave Morris said it could have been a different story if they weren’t due to the intensity of the fire.
‘‘There is no doubt, in my opinion, that smoke alarms saved their lives,’’ Morris said.
‘‘Chances are with everybody in bed the smoke would have overcome them and they may have died.
A total of five fire crews worked from 10.30pm until 2am to extinguish the blaze and dampen down hot spots. But it reignited the next morning and they were called back.
Meanwhile, an unusual benchtop water cooler is likely to have sparked a blaze that razed a second south Waikato family home.
Flames exploded through the walls and melted the windows of the house in Waitangi Place on Friday night. The blaze followed a two-hour power cut in Tokoroa.
See page 5 for a story on the third house fire.
Investigations are under way to find out why a Tokoroa family home went up in flames Tuesday evening.