Burnt remains of the Tararua St house. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

Investigation described as ‘jigsaw in reverse’

KAREN COLTMAN
karen.coltman@age.co.nz

When Masterton and Carterton firefighters arrived at a Tararua St house fire just after midnight on Tuesday, the wooden bungalow was ablaze.

Two crews from Masterton and two from Carterton came in four trucks to extinguish the fire.

Two water tankers were used, and 20 people worked on the big job.

Early in the morning, another truck came from Upper Hutt to finish cooling the site off.

Wairarapa crews went home at about 4.30am on Wednesday.

“The fire was fully involved when we got to the house and had taken over the kitchen and the whole lounge with flames coming out from the roof and the windows,” fire officer in charge Kevin Smith said.

“The occupant wasn’t asleep at the time but said he heard noises and headed down the hallway and saw the flames, then called us and got out of the house.”

The male occupant rented the house from his father and was not harmed in the fire.

The entire back and left side of the house is nothing but charred remains and ashes.

The iron roof has caved in at the back of the collapsed frame.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is under way. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND

The house was a grand, all-wood 1930s bungalow.

Neighbour Jim Graydon said the house was on about half an acre, like most of the houses on the street, and his house was built at the back after it was subdivided.

“I feel very sorry for the owner, we have known him for more than 25 years,” Graydon said.

“He spent plenty of time over the years looking after the home.

“It was a beautiful home, and it is very sad for him.”

Graydon said he didn’t know what was happening until he got up at 12.30am and watched the flames coming out of the back of the house where the kitchen was.

He felt the heat and knew there would be very little to save.

Other people on neighbouring streets reported seeing an orange glow in the sky.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is under way.

Wellington-based Fire and Emergency inspector Philip Soal was at the house mid-morning on Wednesday with a police forensic photographer and another forensic officer.

“It’s sad, for sure, there is nothing left really,” Soal said.

He expected to be at the house for most of the day.

“Working out how the fire started is a bit like doing a jigsaw in reverse, we will start at the front and work back working out how the fire spread and what it did,” he said.

The owner of the house told the Times-Age they were grateful for the help from emergency services.



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