A Kaikohe man lost everything he owned and a Moerewa family's shed was burnt to the ground in two separate fires in the space of two hours.
Northland firefighters were called to a house fire on Omapere Rd, Kaikohe, about 12.30pm yesterday and two hours later to a 6m x 9m double-garage blaze on Te Oro Pl, Moerewa, which was visible from Kawakawa.
The modest, one-bedroom Kaikohe home had been unoccupied for some time but a family member had returned to Kaikohe a few weeks ago, moved in, and started cleaning up the property. The house burnt to the ground and three other corrugated iron buildings on the section - a sleepout, garage and shed - were damaged.
The man was not at home at the time so neighbours raised the alarm when they saw flames . Another resident reported hearing loud explosions. The remains of a shattered LPG tank could be seen among the ashes.
Kaikohe deputy fire chief Wiremu Matene said the house was burning fiercely when the brigade arrived.
Firefighters donned breathing apparatus because of the intense heat and smoke.
The occupant had lost everything he owned and gone to the town's Work and Income office for help buying some replacement clothing.
The short-crewed Kaikohe Fire Brigade was backed up by firefighters from Okaihau and the Kaikohe-based Rural Fire Authority.
The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear. A fire investigator was due to inspect the remains of the dwelling late yesterday.
The occupant told firefighters the property was not connected to power or the town water supply.
Two hours later in Moerewa fire crews from Kawakawa, Kerikeri, Paihia and Okaihau rushed to Te Oro Pl after reports of a shed "well-involved" in flames which was only about 6m away from a house.
Wayne Martin, Kawakawa Fire Brigade chief fire officer, said despite only being a short distance away the occupants of the house did not know the shed was on fire until they heard a window smash.
"When we arrived it was well involved in flames. It was visible from Kawakawa," he said.
Mr Martin said the family, who were devastated, had used the garage as a sleepout but no one was inside at the time of the blaze. He said it took crews about 20 minutes to contain the fire and 40 minutes to extinguish it. A fire investigator was at the scene yesterday.
Also yesterday, about 11.50am, the Pukenui Rural Fire Party was called out to an unpermitted rubbish fire which had spread through about 50m x 20m of kikuyu. The landowner suffered burns to one hand trying to put it out.
Fire restrictions apply all year round to the fire-prone Aupouri and Karikari peninsulas.