Fire boss threatens court action after more blazes

By Peter de Graaf

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South Hokianga has been plagued by fires this summer, like this one at Taheke
South Hokianga has been plagued by fires this summer, like this one at Taheke

The Far North's rural fire boss is vowing to take future fire starters to court after two more blazes threatened a home and cost $25,000 to put out.

It is thought the blazes, both in Taheke on Monday afternoon, were caused by rubbish fires lit in tinder-dry conditions.

Deputy rural fire officer Clinton Lyall said the first started about 1.30pm on Peras Rd, off State Highway 12 at Waima, burning 1ha of grass before it was extinguished by firefighters from Rawene and Kaikohe. Two helicopters were called out but not required.

The second was on nearby Ramsey Rd, about 500m from SH12, tearing through 3ha of scrub and endangering a house before it was brought under control by three helicopters using monsoon buckets. They were backed by fire crews from Rawene and Kaikohe, a tanker and a digger.

A forestry crew kept watch overnight. It was hoped the fire would be out by 3pm on Tuesday.

Rawene firefighters returned to Peras Rd about 7.15pm to extinguish a burning tree unrelated to the earlier fire.

Mr Lyall said it was still a restricted fire season and permits were required for any burn-off or rubbish fire. The first blaze cost about $5000 to put out and the second $20,000.

Northern principal rural fire officer Myles Taylor had earlier vowed to bill anyone who lit an illegal fire the cost of putting it out. Now his patience had run out and he would take them to court as well.

''People assume the fire danger is over, but in actual fact this is the worst time of the year. People are going to be put in front of a judge. I'm sick of it.''

- Northern Advocate

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