Battle to stop blaze takes hours

By Genevieve Helliwell


About a dozen firefighters spent hours battling a large scrub fire on the side of a steep hill in Welcome Bay on Saturday.

Papamoa fire chief Allan Bicker, said the blaze, which broke out about 2.30pm in Welcome Bay Rd, covered an area about 50m by 20m and took firefighters about two hours to extinguish because of the "steep slope" and size of the fire.

"It was a case of climbing the hill in all our gear and we had a hose reaching up from the truck. We used forestry packs and that's 100 metres of hose you carry on your back. There were no houses near, the area was surrounded by grassland so that was quite good."

Mr Bicker said the owner of the land had a small, controlled fire burning earlier and had done everything properly, with "a good set up" and a water hose nearby. "He thought he dampened it right down then went inside for lunch, then when he came out he saw a fire engine at the bottom of the hill. It was a complete accident."

Volunteer firefighters from Papamoa and paid firefighters from Mount Maunganui attended the fire. They were assisted by volunteer firefighters from Te Puke.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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