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Homes escape fast-moving fire

GILL ALCOCK
Last updated 09:14 23/01/2013
Waiheke fire
Jenny Stevens

WORKING HARD: Waiheke fire crews get the Erua Rd fire under control from the ridge top.

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A change in the wind on Saturday could have spelt disaster for Erua Rd homeowners, emergency services experts say.

Waiheke volunteer fire chief Ron Leonard says if the wind had changed it would have been a completely different story.

The southwest wind fanned the flames northwards up the hill away from the houses on Erua Rd and burnt an estimated 10 hectares of land.

Mr Leonard saw the extent of the fire as he was driving towards it and phoned for a helicopter with a bucket.

The helicopter from Thames joined the four Waiheke tenders to fight the fast moving inferno which is believed to have started in a rubbish fire behind a home on Erua Rd.

"We set up a crew on Erua Rd to protect the houses and took the rest of the equipment to the top of the ridge," Mr Leonard says.

"Fortunately there is a track up there so most of the fire attack came from the top of the hill."

A lack of water supply was overcome with the help of Aqua Water which sent up a tanker and Downer which made frequent trips delivering water to the fire crew, along with the helicopter which spent three or four hours making the trip to Anzac Bay to fill up its bucket to help douse the flames, Mr Leonard says.

The fire crews worked until 11pm and were back again on Sunday morning for a couple of hours dampening down hot spots.

The principal rural fire officer for the Auckland region visited the island on Sunday and made inquiries, Mr Leonard says.

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