The man who dialled 111 is still surprised his house wasn't engulfed in flames.

Doug Lowe was the closest to the source of the Waimarama fire.

An employee on his property saw the fire ignite on Monday morning which led to him racing to the phone and dialling 111.

"I could see the smoke rush through the trees and flames light up the hills surrounding us."


"It was so close and went right around our fence line ... for it not too get our home someone must have been looking after us."

After running to the phone Mr Lowe was put through to the fire service who, he said, knew the exact location he was talking about.

Moments later fire engines hooned up his driveway and began to battle the blaze.

"I honestly think that's what saved us as when they arrived the wind picked up. The flames went from the bottom of the hill right to the top of the hill where the Gemmills' lived."

Mr Lowe said within about one minute the flames wrapped around the Gemmills' house, which then burned to the ground.

"It was truly unbelievable, the whole hill in front of us just went up in flames. The long grass just made it go whoosh."

It wasn't long before helicopters with monsoon buckets graced the smokey sky above him.

Mr Lowe's friends called him up from Ocean Beach asking where the fire was and he said to them, "it won't be long until it's at your place", that's how fast it was going.

Mr Lowe has seen fires start before from lines touching, and causing sparks to drop on to the ground so had speculation about this one.

Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said, at a press conference on Monday, that a number of fires in the past month had been caused by arcing powerlines though it was not sure whether the Waimarama blaze was an example of this.

Mr Lowe said new power lines and a big new transformer had just been put in near his property so wondered whether the lines company had upped the voltage, sparking fires.

"The Unison guys had come in to trim some of the trees and they were right on the spot but with the fires we have had lately there has been that strong wind. The winds swirl around here."

Unison relationship manager Danny Gough said they'll do what they can to help with the investigation.

Though he said their information showed it wasn't their power lines at fault.

HDC Civil Defence Emergency Management controller Craig Cameron said: "As we head into the recovery phase we will turn our heads to possible causes."

"The focus at the moment is on putting the fire out; then there will be an investigation."

He said best information they have was that it started in the Red Bridge area, however details such as that would be refined during the investigation phase.