Neighbour wakes teen from blaze

DAMAGE: The blaze ripped through the garage.

Brodie Ablett will always be grateful to his neighbours who woke him from a nearby fire at the weekend.

Mr Ablett, 19, was woken by his neighbour as a blaze in a garage on their property was within minutes of erupting into an inferno. He was asleep in his father’s Rakaia Huts house when the fire started in Merrolli and Graham Turner’s garage.

Mr and Mrs Turner, who live on Ocean View Pl, were also woken by their neighbours, Barry McKay and Graeme Patterson, after Mr McKay smelled smoke about 5.50am on Sunday.

Mr Patterson had been watching the England v South Africa rugby game and was planning to go whitebaiting. Mr McKay was planning to go fishing.

Mr Ablett said he is “unexplainably grateful” to have been woken up by Mrs Turner. “I would hate to think how it may have gone down if it [the fire] had hit a gas bottle or the trees at the front of our section where the fire was heading,” he said.

By the time Mr Ablett left his father’s house, Mr McKay and Mr Patterson had pulled the boat away from the front of the garage and were using the garden hose to begin extinguishing the fire.

“We actually got it out with a garden hose, reasonably out anyway, and then the brigade turned up and took over from there,” Mr Patterson said.

Southbridge chief fire officer Donald McMillan said they were “very lucky.” If no one had been awake, he said the fire would have spread to where Mr Ablett was sleeping in about 10min.

“It would have happened if no one had woken up, it would have spread,” he said.

It took firefighters 20min to contain the blaze, which caused “considerable damage,” Mr McMillan said.

Mrs Turner said they have insurance but it was still “pretty scary and shattering.”

She said the garage contained their Suzuki Escudo, power tools, fishing and motor-cycle gear.

Mrs Turner said the cause of the fire was still being investigated.