Sheds destroyed in Whakamarama blaze

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Update: Firefighters this afternoon battled four separate blazes over five hours to save a Whakamarama house from being engulfed in flames.

Two sheds and two vehicles on the Wainui South Rd property were destroyed during the fire, which was thought to be caused by high winds and sparks from a power line.

Fire fighters were called to the blaze at a property at the end of Wainui South Rd about 4.15pm.

Six fire crews battled to keep the fire under control for five hours, with two crews remaining on site until 9pm last night to dampen any hot spots. Fire service assistant area commander Aaron Waterreus told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend there were moments when the crews thought they would not manage to get the fire under control because of the wind.

"We were not just battling one fire, there were four separate fires at one stage.

"There were a couple of moments when it was touch and go and it looked like it would get away on us and take the house,'' he said.

"The wind was blowing hot ambers all over the place and it was tough going, but the guys got there in the end.

"They did a great job and should be proud.''

Neighbour Nick Eagle said he was told the fire was started when the powerlines banged together in the wind and caused sparks to fall into bamboo.

The howling wind caused the fire to quickly spread to two sheds which were only metres from the house owned by Des Farrelly.

Mr Eagle was alerted to the fire by the loud cracking sounds made as the bamboo burnt and he and wife Karen quickly sprung into action.

The pair moved all the animals that were in the paddocks outside the house including her two show horses.

It was not long before the sheds were engulfed and flames were lapping at the carport.

"It went up fast. It was minutes. It was huge above the sheds,'' he said.

Mrs Eagle said the fire had also spread to a shelter belt on their property.

"It was so bad when it first started because of all the tires and chemicals and that. The smoke was just going over the roof. We thought it would get to the house."

Mrs Farrelly was badly shaken and was being looked after by neighbours but Mr Farrelly could be scene amongst the debris in his shorts and jandals helping fire fighters battle the blaze.

Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said two tractors and the sheds, which were full of firewood, had been destroyed.

The neighbours had also let out the Farrelly's 17 chickens before the fire got to them.

One firefighter had to be taken to Tauranga Hospital after suffering injuries during the fire, Mr Waterreus said.

"They were maneuvering a hose around the property when they slipped into a pit which was covered in grass,'' he said.

"Thankfully the injuries were minor and they were taken to hospital as a precaution.''

EARLIER STORY:

UPDATE 4.30pm: A Whakamarama house is on fire as firefighters rush out to get the blaze under control.

A Northern Fire Communications spokesman said a house in Wanui South Rd was "well involved".

"Currently four trucks and two water tankers are on their way to the scene. High winds are of a concern," he said.

It is not yet know if the fire has spread into surrounding bush.

EARLIER: Several firefighter units are battling a fire in Whakamarama, with reports there is a house on fire.

Firefighters have been called to Wainui South Rd, where the fire is believed to have started.

It is understood strong winds have fanned the blaze. It has not been confirmed if reports of a house on fire are correct.

More soon.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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