25 Jul 2016

Woman feared trapped in fire found safe

5:58 pm on 25 July 2016

A woman who police thought may have been trapped in a house destroyed by fire in Whanganui has been found safe at a different address.

She had been unaccounted for after a suspicious house fire in Whanganui last night, which destroyed one house and severely damaged another.

Close up of a fire truck

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The Fire Service had thought the missing woman could be in the first house on Seafront Road in Castlecliff, which had been too badly damaged to enter.

Area commander Bernie Rush said the internal walls and roof had collapsed, and investigators were waiting for an Urban Search and Rescue team to arrive.

"The building is really unstable, we're just waiting for a USR squad to come over from Palmerston North to stabilise the building to start a search in amongst the rubble," Mr Rush said.

"There's virtually only three exterior walls still standing, all the interior walls have gone and the roof has collapsed inside."

A Fire Service spokesperson said there were smoke alarms in the house.

Mr Rush said an elderly man in the neighbouring house, which also caught fire, was taken to hospital last night with suspected smoke inhalation.

Meanwhile in Ashhurst, near Palmerston North, one man died after his house caught fire in the early hours of the morning.