Annual fire danger for South Wairarapa

By Andrew Bonallack editorial@age.co.nz -
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Firefighters tug hoses into position to finish off a vegetation fire, caused by arcing powerlines. PHOTO/ANDREW BONALLACK
Firefighters tug hoses into position to finish off a vegetation fire, caused by arcing powerlines. PHOTO/ANDREW BONALLACK

It's a fire that keeps on happening, say worried land owners.

The Featherston fire brigade was called to a notorious trouble spot 5km down Western Lake Rd at about 7.30pm on Saturday after strong westerlies caused power lines to cross, sparking a fire on the road verge vegetation below.

The fire, which had spread into a paddock and roadside, was brought under control in under a minute, saving the fence from destruction.

Two Featherston engines, backed up by Carterton fire brigade's water tanker, attended.

A neighbour opposite, who did not want to be named, said a fire happened every year when the winds got strong, pointing to the overhead power lines.

As she was talking, the lines crossed, causing an audible crack and showering sparks on the startled firefighters below.

"That's the first time I've actually seen that happen," said the neighbour.

"The first time it had happened we thought someone had thrown a cigarette, then 10 days later, it happened again."

She said this fire was "so sudden".

"This is a yearly thing for us."

The residents right beside the paddock, Mike and Dayle Hurrell, had worried the fire was heading towards their house.

Mr Hurrell said he had been meaning to have a talk with the South Wairarapa District Council about the wires.

"One day this is going to happen and we'll have a fire running down the road. We're a bit concerned -- is this going to continue?"

Featherston fire chief Colin McKenna said he knew the location well. He had radioed PowerCo to come and look at the problem.

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