DESTROYED - Woman loses everything in blaze including dog

By Cherie Taylor,


As flames engulfed Sharlene Coe's home, she felt somebody pull her hair and yell "get up, dear, get up, dear".

Moments later the Rotorua woman, home alone with her dog Hulk, realised her rented home was ablaze and she made her escape the only way she could - out the bedroom window.

But her pet, sleeping inside because of a prowler in the neighbourhood, died in the fire.

Talking to The Daily Post yesterday, Mrs Coe said she didn't know where the voice came from but obviously something was telling her to get out of the house quickly. Firefighters say she is lucky to be alive.

The blaze broke out in the Roosevelt Rd property in Rotorua about 1.30am yesterday. Mrs Coe has been left with only the clothes she was in when rushed to hospital by ambulance, bare-footed and vomiting "black stuff".

She spent about 13 hours in hospital after suffering from smoke inhalation.




She said she was pleased her grandchildren weren't staying over as she recalled the nightmare unfolding in the dead of night.

"I was asleep and somebody pulled my hair waking me yelling 'get up dear, get up'. I turned over and there was nobody there but there was smoke coming under the door. It was thick smoke.

"I jumped up and opened the door. I couldn't see anything except flames." Jumping out her bedroom window, Mrs Coe said she ran to the neighbours', screaming.

"It seemed like time stood still. Everything was in slow motion. It only took the firemen two minutes to get here but it felt like hours."

Flames engulfed the home. "The flames were like two storeys above the house. It was scary."

The unemployed grandmother, who has just finished her BA in Iwi Environmental Management, recently cancelled her contents insurance and doesn't know how she will replace her household possessions.

"I only stopped the insurance because things were so tough financially while I'm looking for work. I was planning to restart it soon. I don't know what I'm going to do now. We've lost everything."

When The Daily Post arrived on the scene yesterday afternoon, every wooden window and door frame in the house was burned black. Everything inside was black and crisp, with the thick smell of smoke in the air.

A child's double swing sat on the front yard with the plastic seats melted. Other children's outdoor equipment was damaged and strewn around the yard. A plastic garden chair melted against a table on the back deck along with charcoal-covered potted plants.

A dog kennel and dog chain sat metres from where the beloved pet had been buried by friends of Mrs Coe.

"I'm so going to miss Hulk. He was a lovely loyal dog."

Friends and family huddled in a garage beside the home, supporting each other yesterday.

Rotorua fire risk management officer Stuart Bootten said Mrs Coe was one lucky lady as many people caught sleeping in fires were overcome by smoke inhalation and died

Mr Bootten said there were no signs of smoke detectors in the hous, which was a concern.

"Smoke alarms save lives."

The fire is not being treated as suspicious.

"It started in the kitchen dining area."

It appeared the fire took hold quickly, burning through the inside of the home before firefighters arrived on the scene, he said.

The fire could have been smouldering and suddenly erupted into flames as it took hold, Mr Bootten said.

"Fire is a very strange thing. It has a mind of its own. Every fire is so different."

Poisonous smoke will have built up quickly inside the home, overcoming the dog.

"Smoke builds up really quickly. It can develop into flames and can be very toxic."

Firefighters were on the scene for about four hours.

If anyone in the community can help Mrs Coe please email or contact Cherie Taylor on (07) 348 6199 ext 57051.


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