20 May 2013

Fire Service concerned at spike in death rate

9:25 pm on 20 May 2013

The Fire Service says there is a range of causes behind a spike in fatal fires over the past year.

The death of a man in a house fire in Ohakune on Saturday morning brings the total number of deaths since July last year to 19.

So far, seven more people have died in the current reporting period than in the previous 12 months - and there is still six weeks to go until it finishes at the end of June.

Assistant National Commander Ian Pickard says 13 people were aged 50 or older.

He said there is a range of reasons behind the cause of the fires, including homes not having smoke alarms, fires that started while the victim was drunk and simple carelessness.

"There's no one clear thing that's causing all the fires - and that's is the concern, because our messages have been getting across and our general trend has been well and truly dropping quite significantly if you go back 10 years.

"All of a sudden this year we've got this spike in our fire death rate and it's really concerning."