Tonnes of tapioca made conditions difficult for Mount Maunganui and Tauranga fire crews after they were called to bulk store at the airport industrial area on Saturday night.

A Mount Maunganui brigade spokesman said a front-end loader parked on top of a huge pile of tapioca stock food pellets had caught fire.

The tapioca storage plant where a fire started. Photo/George Novak
The tapioca storage plant where a fire started. Photo/George Novak

He understood the loader had been working all day in the store on Aerodrome Rd, with the heat from the exhaust combined with the tapioca the most likely cause of the fire which blackened the cab.

The location of the loader on top of the loose pellets created fire fighting difficulties and the final crew was not stood down until three hours after the alarm was raised at 11.26pm on Saturday.

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There was no evidence of sodden pellets or that large quantities of water had been used to fight the fire when the Bay of Plenty Times checked out the bulk store at 101 Aerodrome Rd yesterday. Empty fire extinguisher bottles were at scene of the fire.

Tapioca
- One of the purest forms of starch
- A powder produced from from the root of the cassava plant
- Pellets help improve cow condition and reproduction