Last updated¬†14:58, July 30 2018
A South Taranaki home owner has been left with the “shirt off his back” after an¬†intense fire destroyed his possessions, including his beloved pet foxy dog.
Firefighters fought to stop the flames spreading to houses on both sides of the Egmont St, PńĀtea home.
The fire late on Sunday afternoon is believed to have started in the kitchen while the owner was in his workshop at the back of the house, PńĀtea chief¬†fire officer Grant Hurley said.
“It was a very intense, massive blaze,” Hurley said.
“It caught on very fast and the¬†heat melted the guttering and blistered paintwork on the neighbouring houses.”
Smoke could been seen by residents¬†in HńĀwera, 27 kilometres¬†away, he said.
Hurley said the owner, in his mid 50s,¬†was in his workshop sharpening saws when he saw black smoke coming from the house.
“The ranchslider to the house was black and he couldn’t get inside.
“He tried to save his little dog who was inside the house¬†and barking but was unable to and the dog perished in the fire.
“He has lost everything¬†and he is left with just the shirt off his back.”
Fire crews using four appliances from PńĀtea, Waverley and HńĀwera fought the blaze for four hours, while a New Plymouth crew helped dampen the down the site, Hurley said.
“We were very lucky to save the neighbouring houses which were very close to being caught up in the heat.”
The fire was being investigated¬†but it was unrelated to the workshop, Hurley said.
A strong wind blowing from the north fanned the flames across the driveway to the neighbours’ house eight metres away, PńĀtea deputy chief fire officer Nick Smith said.
Despite this, the flames also threatened the timber home on the upwind¬†side.
“We were really lucky not to have three houses on fire.¬†
“We¬†had two¬†firefighters¬†in breathing apparatus on the left hand side and one person on the¬†other side to prevent the fire taking hold on the other houses.”
The¬†occupants of the¬†neighbouring¬†homes left their¬†houses¬†during the fire, he said.
The wind was so¬†strong they could see one of the¬†remaining standing walls of the burning house¬†moving in the gusts.¬†
Passing traffic was managed by police with¬†smoke making¬†visibility¬†very¬†¬†poor and hoses being run from hydrants across the road.
Specialist fire¬†investigator¬†Andrew¬†Cotter¬†from¬†Fire and Emergency¬†said it¬†appeared¬†the blaze had started around the fireplace area, possibly from¬†embers,¬†although this was not confirmed yet.
He was on site on Monday interviewing the owner and fire fighters and studying the burned out house to determine the cause.
He said it was timely to remind people that ashes from fires could remain hot for up to five days and if people had not had their chimneys¬†swept at the beginning of winter or were burning wet wood or rubbish, they should have this done.