Elderly woman pulled from house fire dies

By Melissa Nightingale -
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An elderly woman pulled unconscious from a burning house last night has died in hospital.

A Whanganui District Health Board spokeswoman confirmed this afternoon the woman, in her 70s, had died.

It is understood the woman was the first person to call 111 when she discovered a fire in her house, Wanganui Fire Service area commander Bernie Rush said.

Two firefighters carried the woman out of the burning building, and she was revived at the scene before being taken to Whanganui Hospital.

Firefighters received the call at 9.30pm to attend the fire on Heads Rd, near the hospital.

When they arrived, the house was already ablaze.

"The first arriving firefighters began a search immediately and they located the lady not breathing and unresponsive," Mr Rush said.

"They got her out and performed CPR and got her breathing again."

One firefighter went to hospital and was treated for muscle strain, but was released in an hour.

Mr Rush said the crew was "a bit subdued" last night.

"Some of the guys know the victim, so that always makes it a bit harder," he said.

"I think the speed of fire is a factor here. My understanding is the victim was the person that made the first 111 call from inside the house, so I strongly recommend to people that if you discover a fire in your house, get out straight away and call for help from a neighbour's place. That's really important, you've got to get out."

Neighbour Barbara Letica said the woman, whom she described as elderly, lived alone.
"She's very nice. She has family, one of the neighbours was calling her son."

St John ambulance duty manager Trudy Taylor said another woman at the scene was also taken to hospital with dog bites.

The woman lived nearby, and her dog got "freaked out" by the fire.

She received minor injuries, Ms Taylor said.

Investigators believe the blaze started from an electrical fault.

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