Monday, 4-August 2003
The Otago Daily Times
An eight-and-a-half-month pregnant woman dragged her disabled neighbour from a burning Wainuiomata house early yesterday.
"She's a hero, yeah for sure. She saved my life," said Sharon Simpson (44), hugging and kissing Marama Edwards.
Lower Hutt police suspect the fire, which started about 5am, was deliberately lit.
Ms Simpson, who lived alone, has chronic multiple sclerosis and struggles to walk. She said she was woken by loud bangs.
"I thought it was something banging a door. I opened up the bathroom door and it was all smoky, smoky, smoky. I was really scared."
She managed to get as far as the steps outside her front door, but could not move any further. Cracking noises and an orange glow from the fire woke up Ms Edwards, who lives across the road.
Ms Edwards, whose first child is due in two weeks, got her neighbour a few steps away from the blazing house, then a friend helped get her across the road.
She was modest about her effort and said she did not feel too tired, despite being pregnant.
"It's nothing. I just carried her."
Most of the house, modified because of Ms Simpson's MS, was badly damaged. Ms Simpson said she was two years away from paying off her mortgage, but did not have contents insurance.
"It's really bad. I lost everything," she said, her eyes filling with tears. "That's my home."
Detective Sergeant Grant Atkin of Lower Hutt police said the fire was likely to have been deliberately lit.
It was likely that rubbish was set alight in a shed next to Ms Simpson's house.
"It's good luck that it wasn't fatal."
Copyright © 2003, The Otago Daily Times