A fire which consumed a commercial building on a private property in Cardiff last Wednesday could have been a lot worse, says Stratford volunteer fire brigade deputy chief officer Kevan Old.

Kevan, who was the overall incident controller at the scene, says the fire crews were able to prevent the fire spreading to the office attached to the burning building.

"There was no damage to the office, and we were also able to save the shed behind the building." Kevan says he was pleased to know that shed had also been saved, as he knew it contained a 1970s Holden.

"I was pleased we saved that as well."


Kevan has high praise for the Bunn Earthmoving staff who were at the premises at the time.

"The co-operation we had from the staff there was brilliant. They were moving vehicles and even helped by digging a quick hole to take the runoff as we were working."

Thanks to this, along with the teamwork of the firefighter crews, they were able to save the office and other sheds. However the fire did destroy the earthmoving company's large building which was fully ablaze, says Kevan.

"The building contained bottles of oxy-acetylene as well as LPG cylinders, spray cans, paint, fuel, oil, all sorts of highly flammable materials, meaning the fire was very quickly taking hold of the building.

"A lot of the vessels containing chemicals did blow, and hundreds of thousand dollars worth of equipment was lost to the fire, including a truck and four-wheeler. However, the fire was contained to the one shed, which is a positive outcome overall."

Kevan was one of the first firefighters on the scene and says the fire truck was still travelling along Opunake Road when the crew could see the smoke from the blaze."
As soon as we were there we put it through to a third alarm."

Kevan says incidents normally go from a first to a second alarm but in this case he escalated it immediately to a third level.

"It was clearly a serious fire and we needed to make sure we have plenty of others in attendance."

In total, eight engines, two tankers and about 35 firefighters attended the scene, as well as ambulance crew and Taranaki Regional Council which checked for risk to the environment as chemicals were involved.

From the call out at 2.19pm, the last fire truck returned to Stratford at close to 8pm that night, making a long call-out for the volunteer firefighters.

"It was very large area to control and we needed to stay on site until we were sure the fire was completely out. The yard had lots of equipment on it, as well as a petrol tank, so we needed to make sure the fire did not spread onto any of those things."