The kitchen of a 100-year-old Greytown villa damaged by fire on Saturday night. PHOTO/SUPPLED

HAYLEY GASTMEIER
hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz

A rude awakening at midnight on Saturday saved the lives of Greytown’s Kaye Patterson and her 10-year-old daughter, Ella.

The high-pitched squeal of smoke alarms alerted her to the fact that the 100-year-old Horton St villa she rents was in flames.

The blaze completely gutted her kitchen and dining room, with the heat of the fire destroying all possessions, and claiming two goldfish in the process.

“Just before midnight I woke up to hear the smoke alarms going, so I thought it was just the batteries going flat.

“But when I opened my eyes I saw a big haze in my bedroom and then I ran down to the kitchen where the fire was.”

Firefighters believe the blaze started in a hot water cupboard, housing the hot water cylinder, between the kitchen and bathroom.

Patterson said adrenalin and past navy training kicked in immediately.

She yelled to wake her daughter, as the fire spread at an alarming speed.

“I grabbed my cell phone and the car keys for some reason and the house phone and called out to Ella to get outside.

“I was calling 111 as I was running down the hallway and shut the hall door behind me, which [firefighters] say saved the bedrooms, so the fire was contained to the living area.

“The heat pump on the lounge just melted to the wall – the heat was that extreme.”

The “close call” was surreal for Patterson and her daughter, who are shaken but relieved to be alive, along with their pet cat.

Emergency services were “awesome”, responding within minutes of her call and treating her for smoke inhalation.

Patterson is now urging people to ensure they have working smoke detectors.

“The smoke alarms definitely saved us, and I just changed the batteries.

“If we didn’t have them, they reckon we would’ve been goners.”

Greytown fire station officer Harry Howard said five fire engines were at the scene around midnight, with firefighters departing about 3.30am.

Windows were blown out and the rest of the house was smoke damaged.

The fire was thought to have been the result of an electrical fault. Howard said the smoke alarm not only saved two lives, it saved their home.

“Because they were out on the road when we arrived and they were safe, it meant my crew could focus on putting out the fire and saving the house.”