Smoke detectors likely to have saved life

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A man and his dog are lucky to be alive after a fire broke out at his Oamaru home on Thursday night.

Emergency services arrived at the scene on Aln St after receiving a call alerting them to the incident at 9.10pm.

Oamaru Fire Brigade chief fire officer Steve Couper said a man, who was in the house at the time, realised there was a fire when his smoke alarm went off.

He had only changed the batteries in his smoke alarm a few days before and that probably saved his life, Mr Couper said.

After hearing the alarm, the man noticed a small fire in his bedroom that quickly engulfed the whole house, causing extensive damage.

“He grabbed his dog and got out only moments before the bedroom exploded.”

The fire was not suspicious and might have been caused by a faulty electric blanket, Mr Couper said.

“At this stage, we believe that was probably a contributing factor.”

The chief fire officer said people needed to make sure their smoke alarms were working and to keep doors closed if possible, as that would help prevent a fire getting out of hand.

“I would encourage people to make sure they have got working smoke alarms.”

The fire service sent two trucks with around 18 firefighters to the property, which was heavily engulfed in flames by the time they arrived.

Three crews with breathing apparatuses were sent in and the fire was under control in about half an hour.

It was nearing midnight before the fire service left the scene and some of the crew went back at 1am to check the property.

Fire Safety was examining the scene on Friday.

There were two more fires on Friday, one in Otematata and the other on Cross St, neither of which were thought to be suspicious.

Mr Couper said a hedge caught on fire outside Milligans Cafe on Cross St at 9.12am and was probably caused by a cigarette being dropped on the dry leaves.

The fire, although about 10m in length, only took about five minutes to get under control and about 20 minutes to extinguish.

“It is a real nuisance, as it will not be easy to replace the hedge,” Mr Couper said.

The weather had been very dry lately and with the wind, fires would light easily, he said.

“People need to be a bit more careful.”

Fire services also attended a caravan fire in Otematata, which was believed to be caused by an issue with a fridge.

By RUBY HARFIELD