Labour pains help save family from fire

By Kiri Gillespie -
Photo / File / Ben Fraser
Photo / File / Ben Fraser

A Mount Maunganui woman's labour pains helped save her and her young family when they woke to find their house on fire.

The 21-year-old and her 27-year-old partner did not want to be identified but the man said his partner's waters broke on Sunday night.

Because the couple had planned for a home birth, they positioned themselves in front of the fire to help ease the woman's discomfort and fell asleep.

About 3am yesterday the man woke and noticed smoke coming from the chimney flue.

"The only reason I noticed it was because the paint started bubbling up. I fix cars and do welding so I knew bubbling meant heat."

He went outside and saw more smoke and the beginnings of fire coming from cracks in the chimney. He woke his partner and their 2-year-old and tried to put the fire out.

"I tried with the garden hose, but the hose had no fitting. I couldn't do anything to put it out."

The woman called 111 and her midwife. Meanwhile, the man moved the couple's bed onto the lawn for his partner to lie on as her labour continued.

They considered going to hospital but were able to return to their house after about 30 minutes, once firefighters had extinguished the blaze.

"We were pretty lucky. By the time the fire truck got here it was flaming. If they were two minutes later it would have got in to the roof and there would be nothing left," the man said.

"If I'd been asleep in the bedroom like normal, there's no way I would have woken up."

The couple did not have working smoke alarms but would not be without them in the future, the man said.

"The two things I'd really like to emphasise is the need to have smoke alarms and how amazing the fire guys were. They came in, sorted it out then and there. They did a great job."

The couple's son, Bayley, was born at home, just before 11am yesterday.

Tauranga Fire Brigade Senior Station Officer Mark Keller said the chimney was unusual and dog-legged to the exterior of the building.

The fire began where the flue and the wall met, he said.

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