Fire last straw

By Andrew Bonallack editor@age co nz -
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'There's only so much you can take' - farmer

REMAINS: A hay shed on Rutland Rd still burns despite the overnight attention of eight fire crews.PHOTO/ANDREW BONALLACK
REMAINS: A hay shed on Rutland Rd still burns despite the overnight attention of eight fire crews.PHOTO/ANDREW BONALLACK

ACARTERTON dairy farmer says he is thinking of giving up the business after a suspicious fire destroyed nearly $100,000 worth of hay shed and bales during Thursday night and Friday morning.

"There's only so much you can take," said Nolan Terry, who walked the remains of his smouldering hay shed on Rutland Rd with firefighters yesterday.

Firefighters had to pour nearly quarter of a million litres of water on to the fire, which took hold of a 20m x 50m

hay shed at about 11pm on

Thursday.

One fire truck, with

Carterton fire chief

Wayne Robinson

and crew, was

still in place

yesterday morning to monitor the smouldering bales, while a pall of smoke was obvious over Carterton.

Mr Terry said he "couldn't believe it" when he heard the news.

He was in Palmerston North driving a stock truck at the time.

After this, he was thinking of giving up dairy farming.

"The councils, the whole farming scenario, the payouts, all that sort of thing - I don't know how much you can take." He said it has happened to him before, six years ago, with the same shed. Back then, two children owned up to lighting it.

He believes this latest fire was deliberately lit.

"There's no other scenario, no electric, it boils down to one thing."

The hay, stored in the shed since January, was "deadly dry", with no rain during the summer.

He estimates it was about $35,000 worth of hay, in a $70,000 shed.

"It was a lot of work restoring the shed [after the last fire], and getting the hay. It's all insured, but you still lose out, you're still out of pocket."

He is worried about finding more hay at this time of year.

"It's a year when you really need it."

Mr Robinson said their two fire trucks were joined by two from Masterton, one from Martinborough, one from Greytown, plus extra support from Rimutaka and Trentham in Upper Hutt.

He agreed the fire looked suspicious, but that would have to wait for a fire inspector, driving over from Porirua that day.

The eight crews put in "250,000 litres of water, we reckon", he told the Times-Age.

"We've had crews here since 11pm."

Mr Terry had arranged for a digger to disperse the bales on to the field.

With no wind yesterday morning, it was "the safest option", said Mr Robinson.

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