Orewa, Freeman's Bay fires prompt warning

Orewa, Freeman's Bay fires prompt warning

The fire service is reminding Kiwis to check their smoke alarms tonight after two serious house fires in Auckland.

A 61-year-old woman is in a critical condition after her Orewa home caught fire, while a man made a lucky escape from a blaze in Freeman's Bay.

The fires have also prompted a warning to smokers.

A blackened shell is all that's left of the Orewa home. It went up in flames last night after a cigarette was left burning into a couch in the garage. 

"If you're going to be a smoker, smoke outside," says fire risk management officer Chris Lewis. "It's far safer and you're not putting anybody else at risk inside the house."

The woman was in her bedroom next to the garage when the blaze started. By the time firefighters rescued her, she had suffered serious burns to more than half her body and is in a critical condition.

Today investigators found the charred remains of smoke alarms but believe they may not have been working.

"We keep on going on about smoke alarms and we can't go on about it enough, that working smoke alarms would have that lady standing beside me today," says Mr Lewis.

It was a similar story in Freeman's Bay today – no smoke alarms and a discarded cigarette.

"They reckon it was a cigarette or something," says tenant Liam Bree. "It could have been maybe someone smoking on the porch, somebody flicked one walking past, I don't know."

Ponsonby fire station manager Grant Reay says just one man was in the house when the fire started. He got out unharmed, but smoke has damaged much of the inside.

The fire service says 80 percent of fires they attend are at places that either don't have smoke alarms or they're not working.

"Check you've got smoke alarms, check they're working," says Mr Reay.

For anyone concerned about their smoke alarm, your local station will even help you install it.

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