Quick thinking saves house from washing machine

By Imran Ali

When Rick White says he's quick, he doesn't only refer to his legs but his mind as well.

While a washing machine at home caught fire, his quick thinking led him to grab a fire extinguisher from work and rush back to his family and douse the flames.

The drama began at One Tree Point in Ruakaka about 7.30am on Tuesday after his wife Anita put a load of washing into the nine year old machine.

"I made coffee thinking everything was all right. That's when our cat started climbing the walls and the dog started behaving erratically," she said.

Upon seeing the fire from underneath the washing machine, she tried to get through to Mr White, who works as a caretaker at the nearby One Tree Point Primary School.

After calling the fire service, she sent her daughter to fetch him from the school.

Mr White said: "I knew there was no fire extinguisher at home, so I grabbed a large one from the school, shot in here [home], and gave a 10-15-second squirt at the flames and everything was under control.

"I am quick, trust me. When my daughter said the house was on fire, I thought the little one [fire extinguisher] wouldn't work. I am just pleased no one got hurt.

"If I was two minutes later the house would have gone, because the smoke was halfway up the ceiling," he said.

The three-bedroom wooden house is owned by the school where Mr White has worked for 15 years.

Surprisingly, he said, most of the clothes that were in the washing machine were saved.

The machine was reduced to about half its size.

It had been making a funny sound lately and was nearly at the end of its life, he said.

Mr White upgraded all fire signs at the school after an emergency services callout about six weeks ago and has a message to the public.

"Be aware of where the fire extinguishers are at your workplace and at home."

Ruakaka fire brigade Station Officer Jeff D'Ath praised the quick action by Mr White, although he had re-entered the house while the fire was raging.

Two fire appliances were dispatched but Mr D'Ath said the blaze was under control when the crews arrived.

- Northern Advocate

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