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Closed door saves house from ruin

A Masterton man woke to flames licking the side of his bed yesterday.

If not for quick thinking on the part of his father, and a hasty evacuation, the blaze would have spread to the whole house.

A spokesperson from Fire and Emergency NZ confirmed that two crew from Masterton Station responded to a house fire at 8.06am in Te Ore Ore.

On arrival, crew found the house “well involved in fire”, so escalated the call to a second alarm, increasing its level of seriousness.

“However, they managed to get it under control without the further appliances, with two crew and one water tanker,” the spokesperson said.

It’s believed that the origin of the fire was electrical, the result of an overloaded power point.

Tony Gibbs, the station officer at the scene, said a man who’d just finished a night shift was asleep in the room where the fire started and didn’t wake up.

“He was asleep with the fire burning around him.”

There wasn’t a smoke alarm in the bedroom, and an alarm in the hallway didn’t pick up the scent of smoke due to the closed bedroom door.

But between a “pop” that the man’s father heard as he walked past his son’s bedroom, and an obviously alarmed dog “going to town”, there were enough signs to prompt investigation, Gibbs said.

When the father opened the son’s bedroom door, he found “flames running up the side”.

“At that stage, the person asleep woke up and jumped out of bed. He had some singing on the side of his head,” Gibbs said.

“The occupant initially went to get a fire extinguisher, but by the time he got back realised it was bigger than they could handle, so they shut the door and evacuated.

“He shut the door and confined the fire to that particular room, which was very important actually – that saved the whole house.”

Wellington Free Ambulance confirmed they were called to the scene and treated one patient in a minor condition, with no further transport to hospital required.

Due to the rural location, Gibbs said the fire crew attending the fire needed to be conscious of how much water they were using, as resources were limited to what was on the truck.

“Being rural, we’re mindful of how much water we use because we can burn through it pretty quickly in a major fire.”

Gibbs said that due to the occupant’s quick thinking – closing the bedroom door, effectively containing the fire to that one room – the rest of the house was saved, bar some smoke damage.

“It starved the fire of oxygen and contained it in that room until we got there,” Gibbs said.

“Shutting the door was the single biggest thing he did to save his whole house.”

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Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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