'Significant' fire near rural homes

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Emergency fire services are out in force battling a 60ha blaze in Raukawa that has activated a fourth alarm level this afternoon. Photo/Duncan Brown.
Emergency fire services are out in force battling a 60ha blaze in Raukawa that has activated a fourth alarm level this afternoon. Photo/Duncan Brown.

With the help of locals, fire crews from across Hawke's Bay spent the afternoon battling a "significant" vegetation fire in rural Hastings.

A fourth alarm level was raised for the Raukawa fire, which covered at least 60ha, and drew resources from Napier, Hastings and Havelock North.

Crews began leaving the scorched site from 5.30pm yesterday, but would be returning in the morning.

At its peak, Fire communications shift manager Dave Meikle said a total 18 appliances, both urban and rural, had been at the scene fighting the fire on a hill along Anaroa Rd.

"It's a significant event as far as resources are concerned," he said.

While there are several houses in the area, yesterday local resident Bridget George said the fire seemed to have changed direction since she was first alerted about midday.

"It's gone quite quickly actually; it spread really fast. When I first looked at it was just a small area but now the whole hillside has gone.

But I think it's actually moved over the back [of the hill] where I can't see now," she said.

"It's seemed to have changed directions going back inland again away from people's houses."

Located on the corner of Valley Rd and Raukawa Rd Mrs George said her husband, Mark George, and his boss were quick to grab a water pump from a small volunteer fire brigade shed attached to their property.

"They've taken the pump up to the fire, that's all I know. He just took off without saying anything. Him and the boss have gone to help best they can," she said.

Mrs George said there had been at least four locals who had stopped to help emergency fire services battle the blaze.

"They've acted as fast as they could possibly go," she said.

With two young daughters Mrs George said the dry weather had "definitely" increased her concern for fires, however yesterday's fire was not quite close enough for the family to be worrying.

"Fire can spread anywhere and take houses out. It's been an unusual season. We're fairly new to the area but they've had at least three pretty close by in the last month. People nearly lost their homes so it's definitely a worry," she said.

Mrs George said the fire spread at an "amazing rate"; making it hard to believe the area had received rain in the past few days.

"You wouldn't even know that we've had rain out here. We've just soaked it in so quickly," she said.

Blue skies were seen yesterday for the first time in several days, after much needed rainfall soaked the region.

Metservice meteorologist Mickey Malivuk said Wairoa had received the most, with 65ml of rain falling in the past three days. In Hastings 30ml fell, and Napier received 36.

There could be some showers this morning, Mr Malivuk said, but overall it would be a fine day, expected to reach a high of around 22C.

Tomorrow would also be fine with northwesterlies developing. Some areas could reach temperatures in the high 20C's, while others could get past 30C.

On Monday the heat will be back on, with an forecast high of 35C.

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