Staff save tavern from ruin

By Abi Thomas

The historic Mangawhai Tavern is lucky to still be standing after a fire in the kitchen over the weekend.

Members of the Mangawhai Heads volunteer fire brigade were called to the tavern on Moir St just before 1pm on Saturday after a blaze from the deep-fryer.

"It caught fire and spread to the internal wall," Mangawhai Heads chief fire officer Maurice Doughty said.

"It's very lucky it didn't burn down. Quick action by staff helped contain the fire."

Mr Doughty said staff used all available fire extinguishers and a fire blanket to help contain the fire, before fire crews arrived to fully extinguish it.

The hotel, which is made of timber, was built over 100 years ago.

"There's a lot of history there," Mr Doughty said.

Meanwhile, Mangawhai fire crews were also kept busy after a large bonfire got out of control on Devich Rd, about 9pm on Saturday.

Mr Doughty said the fire had been lit in an area surrounded by long grass.

"That's not recommended, especially at the moment when everything is tinder-dry."

Mr Doughty said the people responsible didn't have a permit for the fire, and didn't know they needed one. Permits have been required since a restricted fire season was imposed in Kaipara and Whangarei at midnight on Friday, January 18.

Another hassle for fire crews in Mangawhai this year has been continuous fireworks going off in January, at all hours of the day.

"They have caused one serious fire in bush-clad land, which required three appliances and a tanker," Mr Doughty said.

Fire crews had noticed an increase in callouts this year with the dry weather, with 13 callouts in January and two serious scrub fires.

Mr Doughty said culprits of one of the fires were known, and they could face serious fines as the rural fire service recovered the costs of fighting the blaze.

Permits are now required in Kaipara and Whangarei for all open fires, including fireworks, rubbish fires, bush-clearing fires and bonfires, and there are conditions on the use of barbecues, spits, hangi and umu.

- Northern Advocate

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