A devastating fire in rural Carterton destroyed everything Eilleen and Mark Lambourn owned and killed their pet dog Jake. PHOTOS/HAYLEY GASTMEIER

Couple lose beloved pet as fire wrecks home

HAYLEY GASTMEIER
hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz

A Carterton couple are devastated after a raging fire gutted their home and killed their beloved dog, Jake.

But firefighters arriving at the rural Brooklyn Rd property on Saturday night feared they would be dealing with something even worse.

“On our arrival, the house’s entire structure was heavily involved [in fire] with a partially-collapsed roof,” Carterton fire officer Gary McMillen said.

“The neighbour who called it in believed the couple were still inside because both their vehicles were there – we expected fatalities.”

On Monday afternoon, Eilleen and Mark Lambourn sobbed as they buried Jake, their pet doberman of 10 years, next to his sister, Misty, in the front yard.

Behind the graves was a mound of ash, broken glass, melted plastic, and burnt objects of all shapes and sizes, now unidentifiable.

“We have been together for 39 years and this is all our memories, and our dog,” Eilleen said through tears.

“We lost everything.”

The Lambourns rarely ever ventured from their house, which they have rented for the past six years.

Ruined photographs after the blaze.

But on Saturday night, they made an exception to attend a close friend’s 60th birthday party.

Their landlord, who lives a few kilometres away, was outside chopping firewood when he saw a glow coming from the rental.

“He came to investigate and freaked out because our cars were here, and we never go out,” Eilleen said.

She said he rushed to the neighbours to call the fire service, and then eventually got Eilleen on her cell phone.

“He was beside himself that we hadn’t perished inside.”

Eilleen said as she and her husband had no children, dogs had been a significant part of their lives.

Jake is thought to have been lying on the couple’s bed when the fire started.

The couple believed he died of smoke inhalation, “hopefully in his sleep”.

The house was not insured, and Eilleen said she wasn’t sure if her home and contents insurance was still valid.

An op shop lover, she said none of her furniture was worth a fortune, but she had lost things of great sentimental value, including items that had belonged to her mother, and a doll from when she was three years old.

Mark also lost his wedding ring, which was sitting on the window sill next to the bed.

The Lambourns will be staying with a friend until they figure out what to do next.

McMillen said it was a massive relief to discover the couple had not been at home when the fire broke out.

A devastating house fire in rural Carterton claimed the life of Eilleen and Mark Lambourn’s pet doberman, Jake. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

He said with no immediate neighbours, it had been burning for at least half an hour before anyone noticed.

Firefighters were called to the house at 9.30pm, with crews from Carterton, Masterton, and Greytown attending.

It took a solid hour to put the blaze out, and a further three hours to douse flare-ups and dampen hotspots.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but it is thought to have started in the lounge.

It is not believed to have been suspicious.

McMillen said it was important that remote rural homeowners installed working smoke alarms and a home sprinkler system.