Firefighters were called yesterday afternoon when a fire broke out in the Whakarewarewa Forest, off Sala St, 100m from a school.

A Fire and Emergency spokesman said the fire covered about 20m by 30m and two fire trucks and a tanker were sent to put it out, from 2.35pm.

The fire service dampens down hot spots in the Whakarewarewa Forest, near Sala St. Photo / Stephen Parker
The fire service dampens down hot spots in the Whakarewarewa Forest, near Sala St. Photo / Stephen Parker

Te Kura o teWhakarewarewa principal Hinei Taute said the fire had sparked some excitement at the primary school.

"We didn't evacuate as such but we did start our school runs home a bit earlier, at 2.45pm, in response to the fire hazard.

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Flames in the trees beside Sala St. Photo / Margi Lyall
Flames in the trees beside Sala St. Photo / Margi Lyall

"We reported it. It was something we noticed pretty quickly."

After the fire, staff were holed up in the school as they waited for traffic to subside.

Taute said the fire was about 100m from the school.

"We're off the main road so the kids are not able to see the emergency services but there was a bit of excitement to see the smoke."

She said although they were in "close proximity" to the fire, the smoke hadn't billowed over the school and none of the pupils were affected.

Flames in the trees beside Sala St. Photo / Margi Lyall
Flames in the trees beside Sala St. Photo / Margi Lyall

Kara Raharuhi, who lived opposite the site of the fire on Sala St, said she and others at her home saw the smoke before they smelled it. She said when she first ran on to the road she could see the flames.

"The smoke was high over the top of the trees and the first thing I thought about was my kids at Whakarewarewa School, I wanted to run over and get them, but soon they were brought out on to the street.

Traffic on Sala St banking up after it was closed due to a fire in the Whakarewarewa Forest. Photo / Samantha Olley
Traffic on Sala St banking up after it was closed due to a fire in the Whakarewarewa Forest. Photo / Samantha Olley

"They were coughing, because the smoke had been blowing on to the school," Raharuhi said.

"Around 30 or 40 kids were there, some in a van, with the principal. I have two kids at the school and my twin sister here has three."

After extinguishing the fire, firefighters spent time dampening down the area.

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Smoke seen coming from a fire in the Whakarewarewa Forest. Photo / Supplied
Smoke seen coming from a fire in the Whakarewarewa Forest. Photo / Supplied

They also had to deal with a wasp nest in the middle of the area. Sala St was closed from the entrance to Whakarewarewa School while the fire crews got the situation under control and traffic was being diverted away from the road.