Kaitaia and Ahipara fire appliances and Kaitaia's water tanker had a steep climb to reach an excavator at Pukepoto Quarries on Saturday.

The machine, which was well ablaze by the time the first crew arrived, was near the top of the quarry face, the drivers following the zig-zagging internal road to reach it.

It was the engine that was burning, deputy Chief Fire Officer Ross Beddows said, adding that it had taken about 20 minutes to extinguish it.

That incident was part of a busy couple of days for the Kaitaia brigade, which responded to four alarms on Friday, starting with a 3.45am car fire on SH10 just outside Awanui. There was nothing left to save by the time the crew arrived.


Four hours later two appliances responded to an alarm at Juken NZ's triboard mill in Kaitaia, but were not needed, the alarm having been activated by a fall in pressure in the sprinkler system.

At 2.15pm crews from Kohukohu, Okaihau and Kaitaia responded to an accident on Mangataipa Rd, west of Mangamuka Bridge, where a woman had suffered moderate injuries in a fall from a trailer on a farm track. Firefighters assisted St John ambulance officers until a rescue helicopter arrived.

Friday ended with a minor rubbish fire in the Toll's Kaitaia yard at 8pm.

Saturday began with reports that the old dairy factory building at Motukaraka was on fire. The Kaitaia appliance was turned back, however, once Kohukohu established that it was a rubbish fire nearby.

That was followed by the Pukepoto Quarries incident, a single-vehicle crash at Pukepoto, and another vehicle fire on Kaimaumau Rd. The Toyota Hilux was destroyed, but not before the owner had got his fishing gear (which he had been intending to use) off the back.

"He said he noticed smoke coming from under the dashboard, and by the time he'd stopped to investigate it was too late, and there was no chance of saving it," Mr Beddows said.

A Houhora crew was first to arrive, and extinguished the fire with one high-pressure delivery.