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Neighbours, family pull man to safety

Family and neighbours rescued an elderly man from a fire that engulfed a house in Kara Street, off De Lautour Road, last night.

It was the second devastating house fire in the city in a week after a blaze last Tuesday afternoon gutted a house in Cambridge Terrace.

Firefighters were called to the Kara Street property at around 7.30pm last night.

“There were flames coming out every window in the home when we got there. It was fully involved in fire,” said Senior Station Officer Ed Hindmarsh.

“An elderly man was asleep in a bedroom in the house when the fire started.

“The rest of the whanau were having a family function in the backyard of the property at the time.

“Neighbours raised the alarm when they saw smoke coming out of the front of the building,” SSO Hindmarsh said.

“Family members and neighbours got inside the house, roused the elderly man, and pulled him to safety out a bedroom window.”

Kara Street resident Susanna Campbell said it was great to see the whole neighbourhood rush to help.

“Hard out it was pretty cool to see everyone pitch in.

“We don't know each other but we all came together and got out there.”

Ms Campbell lives a couple of doors down from the house on the dead end street. They were having a couple of beers outside when they saw the flames, she said.

“We dropped everything and ran around the back of the house to help. My sister called 111.

“There was a fullah already there with a hose, someone else had smashed a window and pulled the man out.

“There were a couple of kids there too, already outside, I think they were his mokos.

“We asked if he was all right and offered for them to stay at mine but his daughter said they were taking him to his other daughter's house.”

The man was treated and cared for at the scene by St John ambulance officers.

A St John spokeswoman said the man did not need to go to hospital for further treatment.

“We believe the fire started in the lounge room area of the house, next to the elderly man's bedroom,” SSO Hindmarsh said.

“Bystanders who were there when it started said the fire spread very quickly through the house.”

He said the weatherboard home was almost totally destroyed in the blaze.

“The family who lived there have lost just about all their household possessions.

“How the fire started has yet to be determined. It is under investigation.”

SSO Hindmarsh said the blaze illustrated the absolute need for people to have an escape plan in the event of a fire.

“Also, there were no smoke alarms in the house, and that's something else that people have got to ensure they have in place and working properly.”

Fire and Emergency NZ sent four appliances and a support vehicle to the incident.

The crews were there for around two-and-a-half hours dampening down the remains.

SAVED: An elderly man asleep in a bedroom had a lucky escape after a fire gutted the family home in Kara Street, Kaiti, last night around 7.30pm. The rest of his whanau were having a function in the backyard when the fire started, and it spread quickly, almost completely destroying the weatherboard home. The whole street came together to help, said one resident, with family and neighbours smashing the bedroom window and pulling the man to safety, while others dialled 111. SEE STORY PAGE 3 Picture by Rebecca Grunwell