Yet another Far North house was in danger of burning to the ground on Tuesday, a Kaitaia Fire Brigade crew arriving in the nick of time.
The alarm was raised at 11.15am, the appliance arriving at the Allen Bell Drive address, 1500 metres from the station, minutes later, by which time smoke, fanned by a blustery sou-westerly wind, was streaming from the roof.
Everyone was out of the rented home by the time the crew arrived, and no one was harmed.
Station Officer Garry Rush said the fire had been started by unattended cooking, the flames quickly making their way into the ceiling cavity.
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"They went straight through the ceiling and into the roof," he said.
"It was going well when we got there."
Fire damage was restricted to the kitchen, lounge and dining room, but the remainder of the house had suffered smoke and water damage. The occupants, with assistance from firefighters, carried some of the contents outside before the situation was under control.
"It was a good save in that the house is still standing," Rush said, "but there will be a lot of damage to repair.
"It could have been worse though. Another couple of minutes and we would have been struggling to save it. Five minutes out of town and it would have gone."
Meanwhile fighting the fire had not been made easier by the fact that the nearest fire hydrant had been closed off. Brigade member Brian Shepherd said he and a colleague had spent three months locating and recording the state of every one of Kaitaia's hydrants several years ago, passing the information on to the Far North District Council, which had done "nothing" with bit. The nearest hydrant to yesterday's fire "wasn't there," he said after he had excavated it with a spade. It was still marked with a concrete post, but had been closed off.
The brigade had resorted to using water from its tanker.