19 Nov 2015

Woman saves neighbour from burning house

4:36 pm on 19 November 2015

A woman who saved her neighbour's life by helping her to escape from her burning house says she would not have been able to live with herself if she hadn't gone to her rescue.

Christchurch woman Wannapa Kerr helped save her neighbour from a huge house fire.

Christchurch woman Wannapa Kerr helped save her neighbour from a huge house fire. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

The home in the Christchurch suburb of Phillipstown was well ablaze on Tuesday afternoon when Wannapa Kerr ran to her neighbour's front door and woke her up.

The 61-year-old neighbour was admitted to hospital for smoke inhalation, but has since been released.

Her home was almost completely gutted by the fire, which is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault in a lounge heater.

Ms Kerr said she could see smoke and flames coming from the house and knew what she had to do.

"I say [to] my daughter.... you ring the 111 line now, and I run in her front door (and say) Jan, Jan, fire, fire, fire.

"I [was] calling for her because she's maybe in a deep sleep."

Holding back tears, Ms Kerr said she was relieved her neighbour survived the blaze.

"I feel so happy to see her safe... and I feel so proud and I cry every time I see her house."

Ms Kerr's daughter, Janina Herd, said her mother, who is also 61, suffered from asthma and a heart condition, and she was incredibly brave to have risked her life to help her neighbour.

"The lounge was nearly gone, pretty much, and if she didn't call out for Janice then she most probably would be not alive today."

Fire service investigator Shane O'Brien praised Ms Kerr's actions.

"She did absolutely the right thing, it's really important to make sure your own safety is paramount and not to enter a burning building.

"You can very easily become overcome with smoke, so she did the right thing staying outside and calling 111 while yelling to alert the occupants."

Mr O'Brien said there were working smoke alarms in the home, but they failed to wake the woman.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs