Elderly Tahunanui woman saved from burning home


A Presbyterian Support worker has become the “saving grace” for one Tahunanui resident.

Anne Stewart switched on her waterbed heater just as she had done every night forgetting that the bed had been emptied just a few days earlier.

The 76-year-old sufferer of alzheimer’s was not aware of a fire starting from the heating pad at around 9.30am yesterday morning as she continued to watch TV in the living room.

Nelson Fire Station Officer, Darren Shackleton, says it was a stroke of luck that a Presbyterian support worker found Anne and walked her out of the house.

“She was due in at ten o clock and she came in early because normally she would do it after the school drop off. Because there was no school on today this lady was the saving grace. She really needs a big thank you, especially from us.”

Darren says Anne was oblivious to what was going on in the bedroom.

“She was just in the lounge watching television, she wasn’t aware of the fire at all.”

He says the worker initially thought the smell was coming from a heater in the lounge.

“When she came in she could smell something. She thought it was the heater in the lounge to start with. She went through to the kitchen and couldn’t find anything burning. As she went into the bedroom she was choking on the fumes from in there.”

The worker called 111 and two fire appliances extinguished the fire which had totally burned out the bedroom.

“If the worker wasn’t there it wouldn’t have been long for the lady to have become overcome with fumes. If we hadn’t arrived in the next four or five minutes the house would probably be totally involved,” Darren says.