Three people injured in a house fire in Fordlands, Rotorua

By Sonya Bateson

Three people have been injured and a family have lost everything in an early morning Fordlands house fire.

But the family say they owe their lives to their smoke alarm.

The Rotorua Fire Service was called to the Wrigley Rd house at 5am yesterday to put out a fire which had started in the kitchen and spread to the rest of the house.

A woman who lived in the house, who didn't want to be named, said all the people who were in the house managed to get out safely, although there were some cuts and bruises from climbing out a window.

She said the smoke alarm they had installed outside the kitchen door saved their lives.

"We were asleep when it happened, the kitchen was all closed off but it was enough for some smoke to get out and set the alarm off. There were a few injuries from trying to get out of the house, they went in the ambulance.''

Two of the three people injured were males aged 18 and 19. The gender and age of the third person was unclear.

Their neighbours were also a huge help to the family. When the family woke up to the alarm, the woman realised their phone was in the kitchen, so they were unable to call the emergency services.

"There's a lot of people to thank. Our next-door neighbour rang the fire brigade and another lady rang the ambulance. Someone also brought us food, they've all been really nice.

"The staff at the hospital were especially good, I was grateful for their patience treating two of the boys, it was a job well done. All the support we've had has just been fantastic, I feel quite blessed.''

Another family member had offered to house the family until their situation was sorted and there had also been people providing clothing.  All of their furniture, bedding and appliances have been destroyed.

After returning from the hospital, the woman said seeing the mess their home was in had really brought home the message about having a smoke alarm.

She said she wasn't sure how the fire had started, but could only guess something had been left on the stove. Their dog had also been taken away to be treated for smoke inhalation.

Fire communications shift manager Steve Smith said by the time they got the call at 5am the fire was ``well involved''.

"When they got there, some guy had jumped out the window and hurt his leg. The fire service were at the house until just before 7am [yesterday] morning but they left one truck there to make sure it didn't flare up again.''

He said fire safety officers were at the home until 9.45am.

Rotorua Fire Service assistant fire commander Nigel Richards said the fire highlighted the importance of smoke alarms. He said most people wouldn't wake up to the smell of smoke, so it was very likely the smoke alarm saved the family's lives. Mr Richards said they were told the fire started in the kitchen and were to decide today whether to investigate further.

A St John communications officer said three patients were treated for minor injuries and were taken to Rotorua Hospital.


- Rotorua Daily Post

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