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Raetihi fire chief performs drive-by rescue

Raetihi fire chief performs drive-by rescue

June 8, 2006

Raetihi chief fire officer John Compton proved that a volunteer firefighter is never off duty when he and another person rescued two occupants of a burning house in the town at about 7.20 this morning.

John was on his way to work when he saw smoke coming from a Parapara Road house.

“It looked like more than chimney smoke, so I drove closer and saw smoke billowing from the windows.”

John immediately went to assess the situation, and was joined by a neighbour. On entering the house he saw smoke down to chest level and began a frantic search for the occupants.

“I yelled and screamed for anyone inside to get out. A kid of about seven and a woman in her 30s came out.”

John led the two out of the smoke-filled house then called 111 and waited for his fellow volunteer firefighters to arrive.

“I just had to stand back and watch the fire grow. I tried to open up the fire hydrant cover with a screwdriver but it was frozen.”

Still dressed in his work clothes, John then took control of the incident when the remainder of the brigade arrived.

With the fire out, he carried on to work, somewhat late and smelling of smoke.

Local fire safety officer John Hotter says the house had a solitary smoke alarm, but it had no battery.

The fire started in the ceiling and investigation is currently focussing on an electrical fire.

The house is extensively damaged and currently uninhabitable.


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