Kumara firefighters, with back-up from colleagues in Greymouth and Moana, were sent on a 90-minute wild goose chase on Saturday night to the Jacksons-Inchbonnie district to a fire that turned out to be back at Kumara.
Kumara Volunteer Fire Brigade station officer Russell Ilton said they were notified via the emergency response system about 6.15pm of smoke seen in the Inchbonnie-Jacksons area, and they headed off.
Along the way, the status of the yet to be located fire was upgraded to a structure fire.
Mr Ilton said that prompted a call to the Moana brigade for tanker support, while the Greymouth Volunteer Fire Brigade was also already on the way.
By the time the Kumara fire truck got to Inchbonnie in the dark it still had no real clue as to either location or the nature of the fire causing the supposed smoke.
"We got to Inchbonnie Rd and we got a call to say that it was [back] in the Greenstone area," Mr Ilton said.
The brigades turned around and went back to Kumara to what Mr Ilton termed "a small campfire" found behind the old dredge sheds on the opposite side of the Taramakau River from the township.
The entire callout was a "wild goose chase".
Mr Ilton said the actual fire had already been extinguished by the time they got back to Kumara, with the Greymouth brigade in tow.
"A five-minute trip turned out to be an hour and a half ... If it had been a structure fire we wouldn't have saved it."
Meanwhile, the Greymouth brigade was called to a false alarm at the Nelson St shops on Friday afternoon and yesterday morning responded to a call to South Island Metal Exchange, in Preston Rd. It turned out the scrap yard was undertaking a permitted burn, during the clean-up following closure.
The Cobden Volunteer Fire Brigade was called to deal with an abandoned burning car on a vacant section in Taylor St about 6.30pm on Friday.
Acting Senior Sergeant Paul Watson, of Greymouth police, said the fire was being treated as suspicious and he appealed for the public to step forward with information, particularly any sightings of odd behaviour or a person coming home reeking of smoke.
- Greymouth Star