Paperboy saves house from smoke damage

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A Mountain Scene paperboy leapt into action on his weekly round to save an elderly Frankton resident’s house.

Remarkables Primary School pupil Jack Smillie helped stop 92-year-old Mavora MacKenzie’s home becoming severely damaged after the latch on her diesel burner did not close properly – causing smoke to fill the house.

The 11-year-old was delivering the paper at Mavora’s home, in Stewart Street, earlier this month while she was in Invercargill for the day receiving eye treatment.

“I walked up the drive like I normally do, got to the front door, and saw the chocolate bar that Mavora sometimes gives me, before I heard a beeping noise,” says Jack, of Kelvin Heights.

“I looked inside and saw the smoke. I tried to get in but it was locked.”

Quick-thinking Jack ran around to a neighbour’s house.

“We found a spare set of keys to get in. Once we got in, we closed the door, opened all the windows and turned the smoke alarms off.

“I was worried, but if there were big flames I would’ve been very scared.”

Retired Mavora had left home around 8am for her appointment, after turning the diesel burner on in her living room.

It was 4pm before Jack arrived.

Once the house was made safe, there was no need to call the fire brigade.

Young Jack continued on his paper round wearing his smoky clothes.

Mavora was shocked to see what had happened to her beloved home of more than five decades when she returned later that afternoon.

She says: “I felt quite sick at the thought I could have lost the whole house.

“He used his head and deserves more than a chocolate bar.

“I called the school to tell them about it. It could be a lesson to a lot of the children.”

Mavora has lived in the house ever since it was built in 1963, and has been reading Scene

She’s having repair work done to her smoke-damaged living room, but Jack’s quick response managed to stop the smoke spreading throughout the whole house.

“I was very lucky. I thought he did a great job and deserves some praise for what he did.”