If it had not been a still day, a fire in Hawke's Bay could have consumed a church, marae, and house.

Emergency services were called to the vegetation fire in Te Hauke, Central Hawke's Bay, about 2.20 this afternoon.

This was one of many call outs for Hawke's Bay fire crews yesterday, with other vegetation fires in Ongaonga, and in Napier.

The fire had burnt through hundreds of metres of enclosed yards and paddocks. The long grass of one paddock had been almost completely burnt away - metres from it lay a Seventh Day Adventist Church, and a house.


Near another burn-out paddock was a marae and graveyard.

As the fire raged, home owner Tenahu Hawea had been inside the house with her family.

She said the fire had moved quickly, "like petrol was being put on it".

As she could not move very fast, she had rung the Fire Service while her son Leon Hawea worked to douse the fire.

"When I went out, it was just burning everywhere," she said.

If the wind had been going another way, Mrs Hawea said the outcome could have been much worse.

Her son, Mr Hawea, had been working in the yard when the fire started. A small fire at first, he said he went in his truck to get water from the nearby tanker to put it out.

"I was filling up the tanks and I saw smoke, and by the time I backed up [in my truck] it was away. It was just kind of like it came out of nothing."

It quickly spread in the yard around him, with flames soon licking the underside of his truck.

"Its like a spring of fire, once it got going it was just away".

As it reached the paddock closest to the buildings, he began thinking "I hope the [fire service] gets here soon".

He estimated it took around half an hour for the fire to spread. Located in another paddock, cars and equipment escaped unharmed thanks to the actions of the fire crews.

Although the wind picked up later in the afternoon, Mr Hawea said when the fire started it had been hot, but still.

The fire could have "decimated" the area, he said.

"It was quite lucky."