Idiots and arsonists beware

By Joanne Carroll, Kathryn Powley, Matthew Backhouse

Beleaguered fire authorities vow to turn on the heat.

Photo / File
Photo / File

Arsonists and "idiots" defied fire bans yesterday as at least five suspicious fires stretched firefighters to the limit.

Authorities in one district have vowed to charge anyone causing fires by "stupidity".

A suspicious fire ripped through 4000sq m of farm land South Auckland yesterday, and arsonists are being blamed for a fire at a home at Matauri Bay in Northland.

In the Far North, fire authorities have already begun billing people at blame for callouts.

Far North principal rural fire officer Myles Taylor said they had adopted a "zero tolerance" approach after the deaths of DoC ranger William Macrae and helicopter pilot John "Prickles" de Ridder, who were killed fighting fires on the Karikari Peninsula in November 2011.

In Matauri Bay, a suspected arson destroyed a sales office on a controversial Maori land development at about 4.30am yesterday. Kaeo police are investigating. Local resident, former MP Dover Samuels said it was part of a long-running dispute between local Maori and developers.

A woman who lit a pile of grass clippings in high winds at Te Tii on Monday would receive a bill of at least $500 - the cost of a truck leaving the station.

A 19-year-old man is facing arson charges for a blaze on Waiheke Island last weekend. William Anthony Gordon appeared in the Auckland District Court on Friday charged with damaging by fire native trees and fencing in Ostend. He also faces a charge of cultivating cannabis. It is alleged he started the fire by lighting fireworks in his garden on Erua Rd.

Large fires started burning on Great Barrier Island and at Pouto in Kaipara last week and continue to keep firefighters busy. The cause of both fires is under investigation.

Kevin Ihaka, principal rural fire officer for Whangarei and Kaipara said three grass fires near Dargaville in the past two days appeared suspicious as was one near Whangarei Falls yesterday.

"I believe it's just people being absolutely careless or malicious. None of them could be attributed to natural causes," he said.

A total fire ban in Auckland imposed on Friday didn't prevent the 4000sq m fire burning on Paparata Rd in Bombay yesterday.

- with APNZ

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n4 at 02 Sep 2014 14:17:25 Processing Time: 604ms