Lucky escape after holiday explosion

By Sam Boyer at the Bay of Plenty Times -
A can of fly spray exploded after it was heated by flames caused by a small candle on a hallway table. File photo / Thinkstock
A can of fly spray exploded after it was heated by flames caused by a small candle on a hallway table. File photo / Thinkstock

A Mount Maunganui teenager spent Christmas Day in the burns unit of Waikato Hospital after surviving an explosion that blew out almost all of the windows in her family home.

The fortunate teen was less than a metre from the source of the blast but suffered only superficial burns to her face and shoulders.

The blast is believed to have been caused by a can of fly spray that exploded after it was heated by a small candle on a hallway table.

The candle had been blown out but is thought to have smouldered and re-ignited.

Savarnah Lennon, 16, was woken at 1am on Christmas Day by strange sounds coming from the hallway.

When she investigated she found the table cloth on the hall table alight and flames burning the wallpaper.

She threw some water on the fire to extinguish the blaze but when she opened the kitchen door behind her the aerosol can on the table exploded in her face.

The glass and aluminium framing from almost all the windows in the house were blown out, the access panel in the ceiling disintegrated, part of the ceiling in her bedroom down the hallway collapsed and the timber windowsill in her room was split.

But Savarnah survived the explosion with only minor burns and remained on her feet.

"It blew and I didn't move or anything, which is weird because I was so close. For it to blow out all the windows, I was astonished.

"I've only got small burns. They'll go away. They [doctors] only said two or three days and I'll be all good," she said.

Savarnah said the strange sounds that woke her had been coming from the smoke alarm, which was melted in the fire but hadn't sounded with the usual loud warning beeps.

She said her first thoughts had been to put the fire out so that her 9-year-old sister who slept down the hall wouldn't get trapped by the blaze.

"I'm lucky I've got a pair of lungs on me. That's the only thing that woke mum up was my screaming," she said.

Mother Deb Lennon, who sleeps in a bedroom with external access to the main house, was only alerted to the fire by her daughter shouting.

She got out of bed just in time to hear and feel the explosion.

Hearing the panic in her daughter's voice and then the noise of the blast, Mrs Lennon had been unable to find the keys to the door to get in to help her daughter.

"It sounded like a bomb going off. I was terrified, I couldn't get in. I had the keys beside me but I couldn't find them in my haste. I was worried about my babies, I just wanted to save my babies.

"She was screaming to let me know [about the fire], she screamed to alert us. I tried to find the keys and then it blew.

"Sav opened the door, she heard me bashing the door. She said, 'I'm burning, I'm burning.'

"I got her a wet towel and rushed her to the hospital.

"I'm just so thankful she's okay, thank God," she said.

Tauranga senior station officer Nigel Liddicoat who attended the explosion said it was unlike anything he had investigated.

"Certainly we've never seen anything like that before.

"It's incredibly lucky she wasn't more seriously injured," he said.

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