Fatal house fire prompts fire warning

Fire and Emergency New Zealand is warning people to keep hazardous substances away from sleeping areas, following a Coroner’s report into a fatal fire in Christchurch.

Fire and Emergency National Manager, Fire Risk Management Peter Gallagher said the report from Coroner David Robinson highlighted the dangers of using a garage as accommodation and storing hazardous substances in an area used for sleeping.

A 50-year-old man died from burns sustained in the fire that engulfed the garage of a Christchurch home on 11 April 2017.

"This fire was most likely started by smoking in bed, and accelerated by a number of hazardous substances, which should never be stored in an area in which people sleep," Mr Gallagher said.

The garage was being used to store petrol based products, and items such as butane cans, an LPG cylinder and even gun powder.

"In this environment, the fire would have spread rapidly and become fully involved in about two minutes," Mr Gallagher said.

Mr Gallagher said the garage also didn’t have a working smoke alarm.

"It’s difficult to know how much this contributed to the incident but it’s important to note that when you’re asleep, you lose your sense of smell, so your alarm is your only voice."

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