A fatal crash that killed a person in Whangārei last night saw neighbours fighting the resulting car fire with buckets of water.
Police confirmed that one person was found dead after the accident at Black Bridge over Te Hihi Stream on SH14 in Maunu, southwest of Whangārei.
Residents near the area were shaken by a loud noise at around 10 pm last night when the car crashed into some trees near the creek.
First at the accident scene was Nelly Vander Oord. It was just after 10 pm last night when Oord, at her nearby home, heard a screeching noise.
She was in her house and suddenly heard a loud bang. She immediately took her phone and went out looking for what had happened.
"I felt a glass on my shoe and dialled the police emergency number. I turned up the torchlight on my phone and saw the car sitting flat on the tree."
It was a sight that brought flooding back memories of her brother's car accident.
"The crash took out and straightened a couple of trees. The car roof was caved inwards and I couldn't see anyone inside the car."
"Flames started coming from under the trees at this point, so I asked them to send all the three services. My daughter brought me a bucket of water from inside the house and the police arrived soon."
As police approached the car to look for potential survivors, other neighbours joined the firefighting effort. As the fire service arrived, the flames were doused.
Oord is worried about the traffic getting busier on the bridge.
"I've seen three crashes in the last four years. People do not go at 60 kilometres per hour here, but at least 70 or 80 km/ph. The slope and the turn are very risky.
"These roads are getting busier. In the last four years since I moved here, the traffic has almost doubled."
Another resident was drawn to the accident after hearing a loud noise around 11pm. That person believed - from what they could see - the vehicle went over the bank and landed in the creek.
"We heard a couple of vehicles go up the road and the next thing we knew that there were fire engines and ambulances turning up. We heard a lot of shouting there."
Residents in the area were concerned about the safety of their properties due to the increasing traffic.
One told the Advocate: "We sort of live in fear in our house. Twice in the past truck wheels had rolled into the property, one hitting the house and the other one luckily missed us.
"It is a very risky turn and, with the increasing traffic, it becomes easier for anyone to crash into our property."