Four flee inferno that guts Featherston house

By Kelli Hooks

The occupants of a Featherston home completely gutted by fire yesterday morning were lucky to survive, neighbours say.

Featherston Fire Chief Colin McKenna said firefighters were called to Farrier Grove about 3am to battle the blaze, which had ripped through most of the house.

It took two fire engines and eight firefighters to get the blaze under control.

The house was not fitted with smoke alarms and an occupant noticed the fire only when a kitchen window blew out.

"There was a lot of heat in this fire before it was noticed," Mr McKenna said.

"There was no early detection, therefore it caused considerable damage. I would think this house would be a write-off, it was badly burnt inside."

Mr McKenna said people should be aware of the importance of having smoke alarms.

"It's time to upgrade your smoke alarms. If you haven't got one, get one.

"In this case they could have certainly helped. We could have had early detection and possibly saved most of this house," Mr McKenna said.

The occupants were two females and two males from France, who had been working in the Martinborough Vineyard and are set to head home soon.

"They have lost everything that was in the house, there was nothing to be salvaged," he said.

Mr McKenna said fire investigators were still working to determine the cause of the fire.

"They don't have a conclusion as to what exactly started the fire at this stage."

Neighbour Andrea Watlin rushed outside to help when she saw smoke coming from the house, which was two doors down from her home.

"I could just see the smoke and it was coming out of the lounge window and hitting the tree.

"It was quite scary because of the flames and the windows popping and being so close to home."

Mrs Watlin said she was concerned for the safety of the occupants.

"We could hear them but we didn't actually know if they were in there or not."

She said the group had to jump a fence and climb up on to a neighbour's shed to escape.

"They are lucky to be alive, if they had been in the front rooms they'd have been charcoal.

"They were quite shaken," she said.

Mrs Watlin offered the group a place to stay in her house and gave one of them a jacket to wear.

"When they came out they, the men, were in their underwear."

She said the whole house was gutted. "I just don't know how they survived, to be honest, looking at it."


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