Blaze on forecourt after truck goes up

By Harrison Christian

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Onlookers were horror-struck as a burning truck sparked a fierce fire at a Caltex service station on Omahu Rd, Hastings.
Onlookers were horror-struck as a burning truck sparked a fierce fire at a Caltex service station on Omahu Rd, Hastings.

A fire which raged at a Hastings service station terrified bystanders with dramatic explosions and black fumes.

Hastings Fire Brigade senior station officer Jamie Nichol said the Fire Service was called to a burning truck on the forecourt of the Caltex service station on Omahu Rd, about 11.15am yesterday.

The truck was parked at the station's diesel truck-stop, which is separate from the main retail pumps.

The truck driver told Hawke's Bay Today he had filled one of the vehicle's fuel tanks and was about to fill the other when the fire erupted.

He was unsure how the blaze had started and ran away from the truck immediately.

"I just bolted."

Mudgway PartsWorld owner Wayne Mudgway, whose business is near the service station, said he heard an explosion and saw black smoke rising into the air.

He quickly called emergency services.

"While I was talking with them [emergency services] explosions were coming one after the other.

"She was asking me every detail under the sun and I said, 'just get here, for God's sake!'

"It's terrifying. If it had blown, it would have ended up in Napier somewhere."

Mr Nichol said the Hastings Fire Brigade was checking equipment when it received calls about the blaze.

The crew looked west and saw a plume of black smoke in the sky.

As they arrived at the service station, the truck was fully ablaze and the fire had spread to a nearby car wash.

Three crews attended the fire; two from Hastings and one from Napier.

A total of 12 firefighters had the fire under control within 10 minutes.

Mr Nichol said the truck, which was towing a transport trailer, was severely damaged. The explosions were caused by the truck's tyres bursting.

The Fire Service had still to determine the cause of the fire yesterday, although "a few possible causes" had been identified, and investigation was ongoing.

A Caltex spokesperson said staff followed procedure during the incident.

An attendant pushed an emergency stop button which isolated the fuel pumps and stopped any flow of fuel.

The car wash and the pump kiosk were damaged, but efforts wouldn't be made to repair them until they had been looked over by the fire investigator.

The service station's retail fuel pumps were operating again yesterday evening.

Mr Nichol confirmed Caltex staff had isolated the fuel pumps prior to the Fire Service's arrival.

The truck driver and other bystanders were "very lucky" they weren't injured during the fire.

Marley te Ahuru, of Hastings, said she was driving on Omahu Rd on her way to a doctor's appointment when she saw "really thick smoke" billowing across the road.

Ms te Ahuru stopped her car to take photos and video of the fire.

Although the service station had been evacuated, there were "a few people" taking photos and video of the fire on their phones.

Mr Nichol said a house on Lorne Cres, Flaxmere, was also badly damaged by fire yesterday afternoon.

The house was "going [burning] extremely well" as the Fire Service arrived about 2pm.

When Hawke's Bay Today arrived at the scene at 3pm, the property was cordoned, Lorne Cres was closed and three fire crews were still damping down the house.

The side of the house facing the road was gutted by the blaze.

A resident who wished to remain anonymous said there had been nobody in the house at the time of the fire.

However, she believed there may have been a fire burning in the fireplace.

The owner said the fire had melted the house's windows and the property was "a mess".

Mr Nichol said the house fire was also under investigation. The fireplace as a cause of the blaze was "one possible scenario".

- Hawkes Bay Today

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