Firefighters battle major house fire in Dunedin

Fire crews are battling a major fire which has rendered a Portobello home uninhabitable and is beginning to encroach on to neighbouring properties.

A Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokesman said at 4.31pm crews were called to the scene of the “major event” on Beaconsfield Rd in Portobello.

A photographer at the scene said the property was a two-storied house which was well-involved.

Neighbouring macrocarpa trees were also on fire, he said.

Fire incident controller Pete Douglas said it appeared high winds had dropped a power line, where a fire had potentially started.

Wind had carried the flame to a house which then became fully involved in fire.
The home involved was about 90% fire damaged and was no longer inhabitable, Mr Douglas said.

No one was injured in the fire and the family living in the home had evacuated.

The owner of the property, Heather Morris, said she and husband Warren had purchased the home in 1989 to live in, but had been renting it out in recent years.

The fire had spread to macrocarpa trees on the boundary, destroyed the outside shed and totalled the house.

“It’s utterly devastating.”

A young family and their three children were tenants of the home.

“They’ve lost everything, absolutely everything.”

The fire was encroaching on neighbouring properties but all of the surrounding houses had self-evacuated, Douglas said.

Otago Civil Defence and Emergency Management is advising residents to go to Portobello Coronation Hall or the Portobello Bowling club if they require assistance.

Six fire crews were all at work to try and protect two neighbouring properties which were endangered by the fire and get on top of “spot fires” which had the potential to be started by the wind.

Blustery winds were making firefighting extremely difficult, he said.

He estimated crews would have control of the fire in the next 40 minutes, but advised people to stay away from the area.

Douglas said crews would likely remain at the scene into the night as high winds meant flare-ups could be likely.

A fire investigator was on their way to the scene from Invercargill.

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