Smoke alarms saved the lives of six people sleeping inside a Tauranga home when a fire tore through the property yesterday. Early investigations into the fire at the Gate Pa home suggest the fire was not suspicious and investigators have ruled it out as an electrical fire.
Firefighters were called to the Lawrence St house at 4.37am and found the property well ablaze. The fire began in a garage at the property and spread into the house.
The six people, including five children, who had been asleep inside had managed to escape. Their mother had been out, still in the process of moving house, when she returned home and heard about the fire.
"I was up the road, coming down the hill when I got the call and saw. I was just hoping my babies were all right. I don't care about the house, just care about my babies."
The woman said her children were fine, some were a little excited.
"They were all out of there. My daughter had seen the flames. They've got a big story to tell."
The family had only moved in on Monday.
The woman said an electrician had been to the property the day before to looking at wiring in the garage. She said she was told he would return yesterdaywith a colleague to deal with an issue.
Tauranga fire senior station officer Peter Rhinehard said the occupants were incredibly lucky to escape.
"There were smoke alarms in the house. The did activate and people vacated. There's no doubt they saved them.
"They are very lucky. It was a family. There were young children."
Specialist fire investigator Luke Burgess said power had been shut off to the garage after the electrician's visit and he was still working on establishing a cause, but electricity was ruled out.
"What I can't emphasise enough is they had really good coverage of smoke alarms in the house and the kids had learned Firewise at school, so the kids actually knew how to get out. It's a bloody great success story that what we teach actually does work."
A neighbour to the property, who would not be named, said he woke to the sound of banging and cracking and knew it was fire.
When he looked there were already people outside and on their phones to emergency services, he said.