Family narrowly escapes fiery death in Christchurch, New Zealand

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

A family visiting Christchurch, New Zealand from Australia was minutes away from being burnt to death.

They were staying in the Meadow Park Holiday Park, Papanui.

The fire started about 3 a.m. NZST and Station officer Paul Rodwell said, "From the description, they were a few minutes away from perishing."

New Zealand-born Elaine Puku is on life support in Christchurch Hospital's intensive-care unit after receiving internal and external second-degree burns while trying to rescue her children.

Other family members - Malcolm Puku, 47, and sons Jeremy, 17, Matthew, 13, and Jordan, 10 - were also in the fire, but escaped grievous injury. They are currently recovering from minor cuts and smoke inhalation.

"I opened up the door into the lounge and the room was like a big volcano, so red and bright and yellow, and all this billowing black smoke," Malcolm Puku said.

There were no smoke alarms in the unit.

"It doesn't have any fire-protection smoke alarms because it's an old place," Rodwell said.

Fire safety officer Graham Davies said that the accommodation is exempt since it was built before fire detectors became compulsory.

The motel is now under investigation by the Fire Service.

Sources

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