A fire which killed an elderly man in Ardmore was likely started by an electric blanket he had wrapped around himself.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand said the cause of the fire, which broke out in the early hours of Wednesday morning had not been confirmed, but an electric blanket, the remains of which were found in a chair, was the most likely cause.

The man was known to wrap the blanket around himself to relieve lower back pain.

The remains of a second electric blanket and an electric heater were also found in the fire ruins.


Fire and Emergency national adviser for fire risk management Peter Gallagher said the death was a tragic reminder to people to take care combating winter chills.

In the last 12 months there had been 105 heater fires and nine electric blanket fires.

"Our advice to people is observe the heater metre rule. Keep furniture, clothes and children at least one metre away from heaters and fireplaces," he said.

"Electric blankets should be placed flat on beds and people should make sure that controls and cords are not twisted or caught between the mattress and the base of the bed. At the first sign of wear electric blankets should be checked by a qualified electrician."

Gallagher also urged everyone to check they had working smoke alarms.

The dwelling in which the fatality occurred did not have a working smoke alarm.