Two people escaped a fierce fire which gutted two Queenstown houses yesterday.
The fire broke out about 1.15pm in a wooden unit in Aspen Grove, Fernhill and spread quickly to the next unit and the grass verge opposite.
The heat from the fire caused the windows in a neighbouring house to explode.
Queenstown Senior Station Officer Dave Christie says it took a while to bring the fire under control.
Initially, one person was thought to be missing, but after a later search it was confirmed no one else was in the building.
Devastated occupants of the rented houses were consoled by friends.
Amauri Canina, of Fernhill, says his friend rented one of the houses and lived there with his wife and son.
The man, who sat on the grass bank watching the house burn, clutching his son, kept saying he’s “lost everything”, Mr Canina told the Otago Daily Times.
“He’s a really good guy. I don’t know what happened – I didn’t ask him – but it looks like it’s from his house where it started.”
His friend’s wife had been at work when the fire started.
He understood the owner of the houses was in Australia.
Another woman watching the blaze was consoled by two female friends.
As events were unfolding just before 2pm, a panic stricken man ran up Aspen Grove and resident Judi Sneddon yelled to him: “Steve, we’ve found her. She’s OK.”
She explained: “They were calling and calling them and no one’s answering.”
Sneddon was worried her house might be threatened by the fire.
“I’m freaking out. I’m absolutely in a state of panic.
“I’m so scared, because my house is down there.”
Four fire appliances and 24 firefighters attended the blaze.
Christie says it spread “pretty rapidly”.
“We got the water on as quickly as possible to contain it, [to prevent it] from doing any more damage to surrounding properties.”
The cause of the fire is unknown but will be investigated.
Otago Daily Times