An elderly man has been badly burned after his shirt caught fire as he used a grinder in Central Hawke's Bay.

Waipukurau deputy chief fire officer Owen Spotswood said the incident happened at the 84-year-old man's residence on Freyberg Tce, Waipukurau. Mr Spotswood presumed the man had been using an angle-grinder when the accident happened.

"He set fire to his shirt, took the shirt off and put another one on, and then his family were going to drive him to Hastings [hospital]," Mr Spotswood said.

The man's family made it as far as the service station on the Herbert and Russell St in Waipukurau township, where they called an ambulance, perhaps because of the amount of pain the man was in, Mr Spotswood said.


The man was taken by St John Ambulance to the Waipukurau Aerodrome where he was flown by the Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter to Hawke's Bay Hospital for further treatment.

St John Heretaunga territory manager Brendon Hutchinson said the man had suffered burns to the right side of his body.

Mr Spotswood said this was the first accident involving a grinder in Waipukurau that he was aware of.

A spokesman for Hawke's Bay Hospital said due to the nature of his injuries, the man had been flown to Hutt Hospital in a stable condition yesterday afternoon.

The incident was the second accident involving a grinder in the region this year.

Last month, a man walked into the Dannevirke Community Hospital with an angle-grinder embedded in his chest after the tool had "kicked back" as he worked at a site on Weber Rd.

ACC's workSafe construction guide advises people using angle-grinders to wear wide vision goggles, overalls or other close-fitting clothing and ensure no flammable materials were close by.