Hawke's Bay fires all under control

By Alice Lock -
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All fires are under control and out of the region firefighters are leaving the district once their shifts finish today. Photo / Warren Buckland
All fires are under control and out of the region firefighters are leaving the district once their shifts finish today. Photo / Warren Buckland

As the rain falls so to does the chance of fires reigniting across the Bay this weekend.

The persistent hot, dry and windy weather sparked wild fires earlier this week with the largest on Waimarama Rd where one house was lost and 162ha of grassland burnt.

MetService meteorologist Lisa Murray said there was going to be a big contrast in the weather during the next few days with lower temperatures, periods of rain and easterly winds.

"With falls until Sunday there is a good prolonged period of moisture, which will bring up the humidity and stop fires jumping."

Niwa climate scientist Chris Brandolino also said these conditions were better for reducing fires with the easterly winds being less of an issue, as they come off the water.

"It is a good thing having this easterly flow for the water tanks, farmers, gardens and fires."

The Hastings District went in to a state of emergency on Monday afternoon after four fires lit up the countryside, exhausting local resources.

Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said he made the decision so the district could call on resources from outside of Hawke's Bay.

Nine fire crews from Taranaki, Auckland, Tararua, Rotorua, Rangitikei and Whangarei battled the fires as well as the Pumicelands Rural Fire Authority (Central North Island), fire crews from the Defence Force, the Department of Conservation, the Fire Protection Service and the NZ Fire Service.

The state of emergency for the Hastings District was then dropped on Wednesday with the three largest fires in Waimarama, Colin White Rd and Ripia Stream all contained.

About 162ha was burnt in Waimarama while the Colin White Rd fire saw 270ha burnt and the Ripia Stream fire saw 87ha burnt.

All fire crews from out of the region were being stood down at the end of their shifts today with local crews taking over the management of the fire scenes.

National Rural Fire Authority incident controller John Sutton said he was resting the bulk of the local firefighter force on Thursday and Friday, before they took over on Saturday.

He said crews had been fighting fires for weeks and after these latest events were pretty "flogged".

"Many of them have day jobs or are self-employed and have families so we need to give them time to catch up with their employers, businesses and families."

Although the fires are contained, all sites require monitoring and hot spot attention.

The Colin White Rd and Ripia Stream sites were checked for hot spots using infrared heat-detecting technology yesterday and all sites would continue to be checked both from the air and on foot.

Mr Sutton said the aim was to have no hot spots within a 100m area inside the Waimarama Rd containment line by end of the shift on Friday.

"This will give us a very big defence space and the same applied at Colin White Rd."

Hastings District Council local incident controller Craig Cameron said the efforts of all the fire personnel had been "outstanding".

"We can't thank them enough. All of these people have given up all of their time and contact with their families, to help us protect our people and houses."

Mr Cameron said it was important that residents didn't take any risks with fire that could put the district back into a similar position.

Welfare teams have been knocking on the doors of residents nearest the Waimarama Rd and Colin White Rd fires, ensuring they were fully aware of any actions they needed to take.

The Total Fire Ban would remain in place until further notice; which meant no outdoor fires at all, including solid fuel barbecues (coal and wood), hangi and fireworks.

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