Masterton fire a close call for neighbour

A Te Ore Ore family who nearly lost their home when a neighbour's fire raced through tinder dry grass were thankful yesterday that the day was not a " normal one".

Andreas and Gabrielle Laubscher were at home when flames licked across from the neighbouring boundary and raced towards their two-storey building.

Within a minute the blaze roared across the dry grass, and up to a stack of logs inside the boundary fence.

It then started heading towards the home and a nearby woolshed.

Mr Laubscher would " normally" be working in his office at the back of the home and his wife would be away at work.

As it happened yesterday Mrs Laubscher stayed home to tend to a sick child and Mr Laubscher had taken a break, going outside the front of the home to check on water tank levels just as the fire broke out.

"I saw grass round the drum next door was alight and by the time I had rushed to get a hose from our backyard it was raging," he said.

As Mrs Laubscher phoned the Fire Service, her husband trained the hose on grass leading to the front door.

He managed to hold the flames, being fanned by a north westerly wind, at bay until fire engines arrived.

"They were here in next to no time," he said.

Three fire engines raced to the Te Ore Ore property along with a water tanker and rural fire officers.

The tanker had to be called away to help fight a fire at Miki Miki where a farmer topping paddocks had accidentally caused a blaze that involved about a hectare of dry pasture but was otherwise unthreatening.

Fire crews managed to put out the Te Ore Ore blaze before flames reached either the Laubscher's home or woolshed or the nearby Sacred Heart Catholic Church which has stood on the site for over 120 years.

Police later spoke with the person who had lit the un-permitted fire, and the Laubscher family.

Chief rural fire officer Phill Wishnowsky said the fire had been illegally lit, as Masterton district is under a restricted fire order. This means, with the exception of gas barbecues, no fires of any kind are to be lit outdoors without a permit.

Mr Wishnowsky said fire crews had made a good save but it was disappointing to realise " irresponsible" people were taking the risk of lighting fires. "We have made the situation very clear with our publicity, and the media have put the message across as well.

"It is unfortunate some people act totally irresponsibly.'

Mr Wishnowsky said firefighters should not have to expect further call-outs just because of the dryness enveloping Wairarapa. "People just need to be more responsible."


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