Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Dramatic fire rescue in Whanganui

An elderly woman critically injured in a house fire in Whanganui last night was carried from her home over the shoulders of a firefighter before CPR was performed.

Neighbours in Heads Rd, Gonville, described "flames roaring into the sky" as emergency services rushed to help just after 9.30pm.

Barbara Letica lives two doors down and saw the inferno when she went outside to have a cigarette.

"The flames were very high and I heard voices ... The firefighters went into the house, they got her out.

"I saw what I thought was somebody carrying somebody else ... over their shoulder.

"They were calling out for CPR and after a while they took her off in a stretcher."

The woman, whom she described as elderly, lived alone.

"She's very nice. She has family, one of the neighbours was calling her son."

Neighbour Merle Greener said the scene was very frightening. "There was a lot of smoke."
Another neighbour said he saw "flames roaring into the sky" and watched emergency service staff ventilating the injured woman, who he said was about 80 years old.

The critically injured woman was taken by ambulance to Whanganui Hospital.

An ambulance spokeswoman said a firefighter who had suffered minor injuries was also taken to the hospital.

Fire Service spokesman David Meikle said firefighters wearing breathing apparatus had rescued the woman.

The blaze was out before 10.30pm. It was too early to know what had caused the fire, Mr Meikle said.

Police inspector Mike Coleman said detectives were also at the scene investigating.

Late last night, a house in the western Bay of Plenty town of Waihi also went up in flames.

Firefighters were called at 11pm to the blaze, in a three-bedroom home and a campervan in Parry Palm Ave.

Both were "well ablaze" when the fire personnel arrived, but no one was hurt, Fire Service spokesman Steve Smith said.

Waihi Volunteer Fire Brigade firefighters had put the fire out within half an hour and were waiting for a fire investigator to arrive.

- NZ Herald

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