Locals rally to put out fire

Quick-thinking locals saved the day in Te Tii, north of Kerikeri, when they put out a fire threatening a home using buckets and shovels, while a fire at Kaitaia College has destroyed two bins full of old books.

The Te Tii blaze was originally reported as a house and vegetation on fire so the Kerikeri Fire Brigade sent two fire trucks and a water tanker to Te Tii Rd about 9.50am yesterday.

When they arrived they found locals had all but put it out, leaving the brigade to dampen down about 5m x 1m of toetoe and make sure it could not reignite.

However, Northern principal rural fire officer Myles Taylor said the fire was a recipe for disaster.

The property owner had tried to burn a pile of grass clippings but had no permit and had chosen "completely the wrong place" - with the wind from behind, a slope and plenty of dry fuel right in front of it, and a house just up the hill.

"The community certainly rallied and reacted quickly, as did the Fire Service, but it just goes to show how quickly a fire can spread in these conditions.

The property owner was extremely lucky."

The Rural Fire Authority would consider which of its compliance options to pursue.

Mr Taylor had previously said the authority would take a hard line with people who broke the fire ban in force across Northland and offenders were likely to have to pay firefighting costs. Fire restrictions are in place across the whole of Northland due to the dry conditions.

Meanwhile, two bins full of old books, which had been intended for recycling, went up in flames at Kaitaia College early yesterday morning.

The alarm was raised just before 6am, the Kaitaia Fire Brigade sending two appliances to a service area on the school's Pukepoto Rd boundary. Firefighters scrambled over a locked gate to reach the flames.

The heat was sufficiently intense not only to destroy the books but to burn the skips they had been in, the flames spreading to other skips full of rubbish and at one point almost licking a diesel storage tank.

The school's tractor was in a shed immediately adjacent to the fire, but was protected by a shipping container.

- Northern Advocate

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