An evacuated Redwood Valley resident has told how the out-of-control Tasman district fire destroyed a building on one neighbouring property and children's play equipment at another.

Sarah Burrell fled the home she shares with her firefighter husband at mid-evening yesterday when the flames were licking at the top of their rural property.

"The flames spread quite quickly. A fire crew was sent up to Redwood Valley to our property," Burrell told Newstalk ZB today.

Sarah Burrell, of Redwood Valley, has described the damage done in her area by the Tasman district fire. Map / Google
Sarah Burrell, of Redwood Valley, has described the damage done in her area by the Tasman district fire. Map / Google

"It has burnt all of our two top paddocks and taken our trees out. We had a patch of gum trees.


"It also took our neighbour's sleep-out which was right next to their house and the house … next to us has lost their playground equipment which was right next to their house.

"We are very, very lucky that the firefighters were there [and] were able to contain the grass fires. The grass is very long in the paddocks; very, very tinder dry."

"We are really thanking our lucky stars at present."

"We were alerted to the fire at our property around about 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon when we were coming home.

"We saw some billows of smoke out across the valley. We hopped in our UTV [vehicle] and went up to the top of the hill and could see the fire a couple of valleys over in Pigeon Valley ...

"We didn't really think too much of it at the time. We thought we were quite safe where we were a few valleys over.

"Unfortunately it was blowing quite a strong wind yesterday afternoon and it became quite evident after about an hour or two that we could possibly be in danger. We were liaising quite closely with the Nelson and Tasman fire district to see what the situation was and how it was developing.

"My husband … was called in to work early and we rallied some troops around to help us pack all of our belongings and animals in the cars.


"Around about 6 or 7 o'clock the first police convoy came through and knocked on our door and told us to prepare for evacuation pretty quickly.

"We did that and within another hour after that we could see that the flames had actually gone across the valley and were at the top or our boundary near the forestry block and it was becoming quite evident that we needed to get out of there quite quickly."

Burrell and her husband are staying with friends at Mapua.

"Lots of people in the valley have got friends and family within close proximity of the valley, so we've all spread out but we've kept in very close phone contact with all of our neighbours and given each other support through it."

"That's all we can do at the moment - and wait till we get the go-ahead to go back into our properties to assess the damage."

She said it had been a hectic two days for her husband. "He's done an amazing job, as have all the volunteers and all the crews - I really take my hat off to them.

"These guys have given their heart and soul to save people's property and people's livestock.

"I've got nothing but the ultimate respect for them and also the helicopter pilots who have done an incredible job. They used a dam adjacent to our property for water for the monsoon buckets."