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Monday 08 November 2010

A flaming tragedy

Posted in: Community
By Peter Taylor - 13th September 2010

On Wednesday evening, 8th October, Sara Schwartz, the ambassadress at Dot's Bar was set on fire as she stood sentinel outside the bar in Symonds St.


Peter and Rodney ran outside to see Sara well alight. Rodney began beating the flames with his leather waistcoat as Peter looked for the culprit. Peter's niece pointed to a very drunk and wasted twenty something male, medium height and weight wearing a hand knitted beanie. Stumbling on the road, He was about to fall on the edge of the gutter, exactly where he should have ended.

Sarah, Peter's niece, a slight woman in her early twenties, had kicked him hard in the leg as he was about to urinate on the only shrub, beside the telephone box. Tom, one of the patrons, ran out with a fire extinguisher and Rodney quickly used the dry powder and put the now flaring flames out.

Sara was dressed in a bridal outfit to honour a couple having their engagement party the previous Saturday night. It was the tulle veil that the wasted man must have lit with a cigarette lighter. As the rest of the outfit was nylon, Sara, was in total flames in seconds.

Taken by ambulance to Auckland City Hospital, Sara, was rushed into A and E, to be treated for burns and smoke inhalation. 40 percent of the fabric had burnt on to her and there was some damage to her hair. Fortunately, her face was not burnt.


A bedside vigil
The distressed, Doreen Schwartz, Sara's mother, held an all night vigil at Sara's bedside watching as the medical staff attached oxygen and fluid tubes to her semi-conscious, only child.

The following morning, Peter and Rodney went back to check on their girl. With dark circles under her eyes and a grey tone of worry on her soft cheeks, Doreen went for a much needed coffee while the boys talked to Sara.

When Sara first saw the boys, tears rolled on to her still beautiful cheeks as she stretched a small smile of gratitude, forcing the exhaustion back into her mind.

"I don't remember much", she said thinly, still slightly hoarse from the

Picking Sara up from hospital
effects of the smoke and dry powder extinguisher. "The stupid man began bobbing up and down in front of me. You know I have reckoned with drunks before and have been hit or abused in one way or another, several times, but then I heard the repeated click of a lighter." A single fat tear rolled off her lip and dropped onto her hospital gown. With a hard swallow, she grabbed for control so as to not distress the boys, she went on.

"I smelt the smoke first and felt the rush of stinging and burning as the flames rushed up my thighs. I wanted to scream, but my throat was dry from fear. Just as I thought this was the end, Rodney arrived and began beating out the flames with his leather waistcoat, but by then the flames were all around me. I thought if I close my eyes I will die, so I concentrated on Rodney's face, a mixture of rage, full of determination and alarm. I felt myself fade out as the dry powder whooshed over me, then the nausea as my skin burned savagely."

She stopped as the memory and horror had returned and she needed to push it away before she could continue. "I knew I was safe when I heard the siren of the ambulance. I remember nothing from that point." She looked tiredly at Rodney.

Placing a reassuring hand on her arm, Rodney spoke quietly, "Darling, you were unconscious as you were placed into the ambulance. Peter travelled with you to the hospital and waited until your mother arrived. I had to go back into the bar."

Although there is a Protection of Mannequin's Society, bashing and now burning of these precious icons continue. It says something about the fragility of the male ego, his masculinity, if he has to resort to bashing to show authority or compensate for the "tiny penis syndrome". How far have we moved on from the misogyny of the cave people when women and their iconic representations continue to be abused?

Sara is back outside Dot's, sporting a hospital gown
The other side of this tragedy, as Peter discussed with Rodney later, should Peter have punched the wasted arsehole, the vandal, it would be Peter who was at fault for assault. As fate would have it, the guy was so wasted and unbalanced, a decent hit would have him plunge to the gutter and probably hit his head on the curb. All sorts of damage may have occurred and it would not have been the vandal's fault.

Recovering from this ghastly ordeal, Sara, is now back at Dot's Bar. Still in her hospital gown, the community nurse is attending daily to treat her burns and she is expected to make a full recovery. Sara wishes to thank Rodney, Peter, Tom, Patrick and Sarah, for the lovely flowers and would enjoy a visit from her loyal patrons.


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Peter Taylor - 13th September 2010