Residents in a duplex house in New Gisborne woke in fright to find their home on fire in the early hours of this morning.
Firefighters were called to the Monaghan Road address at 1.52am to find the rear verandah on the southern dwelling fully alight with flames spreading to the home.
The homeowners had alerted the rest of their family and evacuated the building, along with two occupants sleeping in the northern dwelling.
Incident controller Bevan Moody said that as breathing apparatus operators worked on the rear of the building the fire began to spread to the northern dwelling via the roof space.
“We managed to pull it up by using a ceiling hook to pull the ceiling down, to enable us to knock down the flames in the garage before it impacted the northern dwelling,” Lt Moody said.
“Breathing apparatus operators entered the main building to search for any more occupants and to initiate the fire attack.
“By this stage the southern dwelling was 80-90 per cent involved so we decided to withdraw our firefighters for safety and continue an external attack.”
Lt Moody said firefighters worked through the night to save the northern dwelling, which suffered only minor water damage to the roof space, but the southern dwelling was a total loss and would have to be demolished.
A council building inspector attended this morning and a building surveyor was expected to conduct a final building report later today.
Lt Moody praised the homeowners for alerting all family members and the two occupants next door to get out safely.
“If they had waited a matter of minutes we could have had a fatality on our hands,” he said.
“The fire started on the back verandah from a solid fuel spit roast that was left on there from the night before.
“The home owner thought the spit roast was cool and out but from the winds picking up overnight embers from the hot coals landed on the timber of the deck and ignited the fire.
“Anyone cooking with any solid fuel barbecue should have it on a solid surface such as concrete and away from the dwelling, ensure you have a water source on hand and that it’s fully extinguished before you leave it or go to bed.”
About 30 firefighters tackled the blaze and were on scene for several hours.