A wedding party and a grateful estate manager have heaped praise on the fast response of volunteer fire crews, who halted an out-of-control grass fire heading towards a Martinborough wedding reception.
Fire crews from Carterton, Martinborough and Featherston were called to an olive grove on the south boundary of Brackenridge Country Retreat and Spa on Saturday afternoon, where trees and scrub had caught alight.
Several crews had to backtrack to Brackenridge as a light southerly began pushing the fire quickly across the grassy field towards the buildings, where a wedding ceremony had started.
With water limited to tanker supply, crews used beaters to halt the grass fire, while others extinguished the trees and stumps along the fenceline.
Brackenridge manager Cathie Morison said it was "scary" and is grateful for the fast response. "If the southerly had come as predicted, it would have gone straight through our lodges," she said.
She said she had noticed a fire in the morning but assumed it was a controlled burn-off.
"Aren't we so lucky to have the volunteer fire brigade - we're so lucky."
The fire didn't dampen the "I do's", with the fire trucks avoiding the use of their sirens as they arrived. Before departing, members of the Featherston fire crew were persuaded to pose for a photograph with newlyweds Tom Knobloch and Micaela Yee, both from Wellington, while the wedding party applauded and cheered.
Fire chief Colin McKenna opted for a handshake rather than a hug with the bride, apologising in advance for the sooty shake.
Mr Knobloch said he had also been aware of a fire in the morning but it looked like a controlled burn to him.
"Then the trees started up, which made it quite interesting."
Fire incident controller Ian Smith said it was the "boys with the sticks" that halted the fire. He said it was lucky it had not been windier.
Rural fire officer Porky Sexton would not be drawn on the cause but said there would be an investigation.