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Smoke alarms save the day

Doug Flowerday wants to remind Wairarapa residents that smoke alarms were essential and should be fitted in all living areas, hallways, and bedrooms. PHOTO/ARTHUR HAWKES

Mother and two children escape blaze
Heater thought to have caused fire

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While a Masterton family slept at a house on Sussex St early Thursday morning, a fire sparked in their living area and slowly grew, filling the home with black smoke.

It was at this point that their smoke alarms were triggered, which woke the family up, allowing them to escape and call 111.

The fire service arrived promptly with two engines to a heavily smoke-logged house, and extinguished the blaze by about 7.10am.

Doug Flowerday, Masterton fire station officer, said that the family’s smoke alarms likely averted a more major incident, potentially even saving their lives.

“A mother and two children had escaped from the house – they were asleep at the time the fire started, and a smoke alarm alerted them of the fire and gave them that time to get out.

“It could have been a lot worse if they hadn’t had smoke alarms.”

The blaze was put out in about 30 minutes, and there was some damage to the house: mainly smoke damage but also a small amount of fire damage.

It was thought that the blaze started near a heater, but a specialist fire investigator was being sent out later in the day to fully assess the cause.

“Working smoke alarms are an absolute must, and in this case they did work and alert the occupants of the house,” Flowerday said.

“We recommend smoke alarms be installed in living areas, hallways and bedrooms.

“Regarding the recent fire in Christchurch, where the two children died, the initial thoughts are that the fire did start in the bedroom, so that’s the reason why we’re saying that smoke alarms should be installed in all living areas, hallways and bedrooms.

“We also recommend people have and practise an escape plan from their homes, and that they have a safe meeting place, and once they are out, they stay out.”

Flowerday also wanted to raise awareness of good fire safety practice, as wood burners and heaters were being used frequently across the region during these colder winter months.

Safety tips to avoid a fire

Heater metre rule: Keep items at least one metre from a heater.

Cooking: Always stay with your cooking and keep flammable items away from the stove.

Electric blankets: Check your electric blanket regularly and discard at any signs of wear, or every five years.

Fires: Empty ashes into a metal bin and pour water over them.

Chimneys: Make sure your flue is swept when you start burning wood for the winter. If it hasn’t been, get it swept now.

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