Bethlehem fire survivors commended

Occupants of a Bethlehem sleepout did everything right to survive.

Survivors of a fire in a sleepout in Carmichael Road on Monday night did everything right to get out alive, says fire safety investigator Luke Burgess

They had smoke alarms and an escape plan, and they called the fire brigade after they were out of the building.

“It's really a timely reminder to ensure that we have working smoke alarms,” says Luke. “Fortunately the occupant was awake and managed to escape and alert another person in the premises that there was a fire.

“He had it worked out so he did the right thing in getting out and getting the fire service there as quickly as possible.

 “He's a little bit surprised at how quickly the fire took hold and grew, so it's a really timely reminder for everyone to have working smoke alarms – and an escape plan.”

Everybody seems to underestimate the speed of fire, says Luke.

The fire took hold about 7pm on Monday. The male occupant says he noticed a sparking and when he went to investigate, noticed the curtains and wall were on fire.

He got his friend out who was sleeping in the adjoining room and called the fire brigade, says Luke.

The cause of the fire remains undetermined.

“We have got an area where it started, and what caused it to start in that area I can't say 100 per cent, so it is going down as ‘undetermined'.

“It wasn't a gas bottle, it wasn't electrical, there's a few things I can rule out that it wasn't, but I can't say 100 per cent what it was.

“We have a very high burden of proof,” says Luke.

The New Zealand Fire Service received multiple calls to the fire at the back of the Carmichael Road property in Bethlehem around 7pm.

The sleep out was completely ablaze when firefighters arrived.

Fire and Emergency NZ Northern Communication Centre shift manager Colin Underdown says there were reports of a gas bottle exploding during the fire.


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