The Kaitaia Fire Brigade responded to a record 407 calls in 2019, and the new year got away to another busy start.

The year began with a report of smoke in the vicinity of the Subritzky Homestead at Houhora Heads at 8.33am, Kaitaia despatching a crew in support of the Houhora brigade. One of the crew said nothing had been found, but it had been a nice drive.

Two appliances responded to a single-vehicle accident on SH10 just east of Awanui at 10.44am, the three occupants of the car that left the highway at right angles and demolished a concrete power pole reportedly surviving virtually unscathed. The driver, a Filipino national in New Zealand on a work visa, told police that he had lost control when the right-hand wheels hit gravel on the side of the road.

The third call for the day was to a scrub fire at Pukenui at 12.19pm, the last being to a shed fire in the Fairburn area at 5.23pm.

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The last day of 2019 produced two calls, to a false alarm at Kaitaia College at 2.47pm, followed six minutes later by a fire on the riverbank off Allen Bell Drive in Kaitaia, suspected by police as not being unrelated to some youngsters who were seen running away.