Three fires at similar time 'suspicious'

SONIA BEAL AND KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 10:27 11/12/2012
fire engine
Emma Allen

Quick response: Firefighters at one of the three calls to grass fires about the same time

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Police are investigating three vegetation fires in the Taylor Pass area in Blenheim yesterday.

Constable Regan Turner said the fires were all reported about 4pm and police were treating them as suspicious.

They were continuing their inquiries, including the possibility the fires were deliberately lit, he said.

The Blenheim rural fire brigade, Blenheim volunteer fire brigade, police and a helicopter attended the fires in Wither Rd, Taylor Pass Rd and at Wither Hills Farm Park, above Forest Park Dr.

Blenheim rural fire brigade deputy principal rural fire officer John Foley said the three fires were reported within about 30 minutes of each other.

The cause of the fires was unknown, he said.

Despite the dry conditions, each of the fires was put out within an hour, thanks to the quick response of the fire brigades.

"The Blenheim rural fire brigade and the Blenheim volunteer fire brigade did a good job and their quick response time meant they got the fires under control pretty quickly."

Each fire damaged an area of about 50 metres by 10 metres of grass and vegetation, he said.

The fires happened the same day senior fire officials urged people to take care with outdoor fires.

Marlborough chief rural fire officer Richard McNamara said the hot, dry weather in the region during the past month meant an increase in fire call-outs compared with recent years.

Grass may look green on top but could be dry at the base, he said.

"That means fires are running hotter and faster than people would predict."

The Marlborough District Council area south of the Wairau River, including the area south of the Diversion, has been subject to a restricted fire season since Thursday. This will continue until furthur notice. Burning permits can be obtained from the Marlborough District Council.

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- The Marlborough Express

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