Quick-thinking saves fish and chip shop

By Kiri Gillespie -
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Craig Teal had been driving past Mainstreet Takeways with his mother-in-law when he realised it was on fire and kicked in the door to put it out and save the shop.Photo/George Novak
Craig Teal had been driving past Mainstreet Takeways with his mother-in-law when he realised it was on fire and kicked in the door to put it out and save the shop.Photo/George Novak

Armed with only his jandals and mother-in-law for protection, Craig Teal didn't flinch when he kicked down the door to a Gate Pa fish and chip shop on fire.

The field engineer was driving his 80-year-old mother-in-law home from Tauranga Hospital about 12.30am when he saw smoke and flames coming from Mainstreet Takeaways on Cameron Rd.

"I could see this smoke coming from what must have been the vent, but thought it was an unusual time for there to be smoke," he said.

Mr Teal did a U-turn, left his mother-in-law in the passenger seat while he went to check it out further. As he looked through the shop window he could see flames licking up the wall above the deep frying vats.

"I called the fire department and thought while I'm standing there I might as well kick the door in," he said.

As Mr Teal started on the door, two women driving past saw him and went to investigate what he was doing.

After also turning around and seeing the flames, one of the women began joining in, helping Mr Teal kick the door down.

"I only had my jandals on. so I wasn't really set up for kicking doors in," Mr Teal said.

"It was a glass door, you couldn't really throw your body at it."

Mr Teal braved thick, acrid smoke to put the fire out.

"I couldn't see much. It was just full of smoke. You obviously don't want to be in there too long. It was quite a strong sort of smell. There was a wet cloth on the bench and I could just make it out so I used it to pick up the basket handle, which was pretty hot."

Mr Teal then threw the basket outside as Greerton firefighters arrived.

St John ambulance officers treated Mr Teal for smoke inhalation but he was not seriously hurt.

"It was just the right time and the right place. Made a decision and got it done," Mr Teal said.

Greerton fire brigade station officer Paul van Kol said the fire appeared to have started by spontaneous combustion from left over fat and food in the deep fryer basket, hanging above the vats.

Mr van Kol said the shop owners were lucky Mr Teal happened to be driving past.

"It's not something that we as the Fire Service recommend but this guy obviously made a calculated decision that helped save the fish and chip shop."

Mainstreet Takeaways owner Lianen Yang said he was extremely grateful for the man who spotted the fire from the road and help put it out.

He didn't mind that his front door got smashed down in the process, he was just happy that nobody was hurt in the process, he said.

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