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Dog Starts Fire, Smoke Alarms To The Rescue

A Southland family is thanking their smoke alarms, but not their cocker spaniel, for saving their lives following a fire that gutted their Mataura home on Tuesday morning.

That’s because the canine was the cause of the blaze after it accidentally turned on a stove element that happened to have a pot of oil sitting on it. Once the oil in the pot reached ignition temperature flames extended into the rangehood filters, which absorb grease particles, and spread the fire rapidly throughout the home.

The family was alerted to the fire thanks to their smoke alarms, and were able to get out in time.

"If they didn’t have their smoke alarms, the outcome of this fire could have been far worse," Senior Risk Reduction Advisor and Specialist Fire Investigator Murray Milne-Maresca says.

"It spread quickly throughout the home and was well ablaze by the time our first crew got there around six minutes after the 111 calls came in."

Commenting on the fact a dog had started the fire searching for possible food and turning on an element, Murray Milne-Maresca says it was the first time he had heard of such a thing.

"We often hear of canines alerting occupants to a fire, but this dog starting a fire highlighted the fact that you just never know how a fire might start in your home.

"It really underlines the importance of having working smoke alarms, as well as a 3-step escape plan, because a house fire can kill in less than three minutes," he says.

"You have to have a way of being alerted to a fire, and you have to know how to get out if the worst does happen to you."

You can create your escape plan online at:

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