Smoke coming from a block of flats in Washington Valley on Friday night after an oil fin heater burst into flames. Photo: Phillip Rollo.

Homes saved by family

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A quick thinking family, along with the help of a sole smoke alarm, has saved an entire block of homes, says a local fire officer.

An oil fin heater caught fire on Friday night and flames from it were seen coming from the windows of the flat’s top storey when the fire engines arrived.

The family were downstairs when it heard a smoke alarm sound. The father of the family went upstairs to investigate and saw the heater in one of bedrooms on fire.

He tried to put it out but it was too hot so he evacuated his family and the residents of the three other flats while the fire service was called.

Station officer Craig Davies says the family did everything right.

“They heard the smoke alarm go off in the top bedroom. He evacuated the house and the other three flats as well, which was absolutely superb. We have to praise them that the smoke alarm was installed because it saved the day, and that the evacuation was incredible. We are really pleased with how they reacted to the situation.”

The family told the fire service that they bought the heater from the Warehouse, which, according to its website, currently has a recall on Kent five fin and nine fin oil column heaters.

Craig says smoke alarms weren’t fitted in the other three flats so it was lucky the heater was in the right flat. “While we were there we fitted the other three flats with smoke alarms. If anyone is in a situation where they need smoke alarms ring the Nelson fire station and we can assist them.”

For more details on smoke alarms call the fire station on 546 2100.