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Family’s fire advice after blaze

The scene of devastation at the Shivas’ home. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN

Grateful family says thanks

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Quick action by homeowners and Carterton firefighters saved a Mangatarere Valley Rd home when a fire started on the second storey last Thursday evening.

Now, the family has some advice for those in rural areas confronted by fire.

Sandy Shivas and her daughter, Sophia, outside the room where the fire began. PHOTO/ELI HILL

As she sorted through their clothes on Tuesday, Sandy Shivas took the time to thank those who had ensured that the family still had a home, even if it was significantly damaged.

Shivas said her husband, Steve, had arrived home early after his music practice was cancelled, and noticed a haze in the house.

“We were in the kitchen and hadn’t noticed … you know when things slowly change, and you don’t realise it?

“Steve had a look around. I thought it was the children cooking and they hadn’t put on the extractor fans.”

Upstairs, Steve discovered a fire in a lounge on their second floor.

“You could see the flames just starting between the floors,” Sandy said.

“Then all of a sudden it went from slow change to ‘it’s time to move’.”

The family called the fire service immediately and left the house as fast as they could.

“All the children did what we had told them to over the years, which is to leave straight away, go on to the front lawn, and then if it goes on for a while head to the house next door.

“One of the older ones went out on to the road to direct the fire engines in.

“That’s something for people in rural areas, especially. If there’s someone out there to point them in the right direction that can be a big help.”

Two fire engines arrived from Carterton. Once at the property, the officer in charge, Steven Fennell, was quick to call for backup – something Sandy said made all the difference.

In all, seven fire engines and four specialist appliances from as far away as Palmerston North and Lower Hutt, ended up battling the blaze.

“We’d like to thank each of them and all the volunteering time they do. Because of what they choose to do we still have a home. They’re brave people.”

“We’re feeling extremely grateful with how well everything’s gone despite the bad situation – those firefighters, their excellence and efficiency and their attention to detail in all they did.”

Sandy also thanked the people who had dropped off food.

“WaiWaste dropped in lunch, Carterton Foodbank dropped in food and neighbours dropped in dinner. That made an amazing difference.”

Repairs will take some time.

“We’re hoping that we might be in here in a year. Insurance assessors are saying there is quite a lot of water and smoke damage.”

Sandy also wanted to use the situation to help others and passed on advice she’d been given by the fire service.

“They said that calling straight away made a massive difference rather than trying to do something ourselves first.”

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