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Firefighters face double call-out

CARALISE TRAYES
Last updated 05:00 26/02/2013
Tapora fire

Tough time: An 85-hectare scrub fire in Tapora was hard for firefighters to put out because of wind and extremely dry conditions last week.

Tapora fire
WINDS OF CHANGE: Three helicopters, more than 50 firefighters and water tankers worked on the first blaze, returning home only to be called again when it flared up a second time.

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A scrub fire in Tapora proved difficult to tame last week as it ripped through more than 85 hectares of land.

The fire first started at 11pm last Tuesday on Department of Conservation land at Okahukura Rd, Okahukura Peninsula. The peninsula juts into the Kaipara Harbour.

Three helicopters and more than 50 firefighters were called to the blaze, which burned for more than three days.

"The fire was burning in two-metre-high gorse, pampas grass, scrub and trees. It grew from a 200m by 50m piece of land at a rate of 150m an hour," Fire Service northern communications centre manager Jaron Phillips says.

Ground crews used heavy machinery to create a firebreak at the northern end of the fire while helicopters dumped water on the southern flank. Water tankers shuttled water to the remote site.

No houses were threatened by the first wave of fire.

Fire crews worked up to 13 hours to contain it.

By Thursday morning the fire was believed to have been under control and most firefighters returned home.

But after a wind change on Thursday afternoon the fire flared up again.

Rodney volunteer support officer Ted Fuller says: "The second fire threatened a few baches and fire crews were called back." Mr Phillips says the conditions were extremely dry.

The fire was contained again by Friday. Fire investigators are still finding the cause of the fire.

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- Rodney Times

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