Marlborough hit by strong winds

An old pepper tree fell on Colemans Rd blocking one lane of traffic
An old pepper tree fell on Colemans Rd blocking one lane of traffic

Strong winds swept through Marlborough last night, blowing over trees, stirring dust clouds and causing small fires.

The westerly, with gusts of 100kmh, also lifted the cover off a spa in Renwick.

In Blenheim, a large tree fell on to Colemans Rd covering most of the road.

Luciano Zucchetto said he was sitting in his house when he heard the tree trunk crack.

Mr Zucchetto, originally from Wellington, thought a bin was blowing along the street.

"I knew it was something outside," he said. "I was mowing the lawns today and the last thing I expected to see was the biggest tree in the yard [blown over]."

He believed the tree was about 80-years-old and said the base of the stump appeared to be pretty rotten.

"It was one of the few original trees on this property."

Mr Zucchetto, who moved into the house about four months ago, went outside and started cutting off little branches while directing traffic, he said. "Normally I would be at work so that was quite lucky."

He phoned the Marlborough District Council, who contacted an arborist in the neighbourhood.

"He was doing a neighbour's property and was here in 10 minutes. He was very quick."

Mr Zucchetto had his firewood sorted for winter, he said.

He planned to remove the stump this weekend if he could find a chainsaw big enough.

The brief wind storm, which picked up about 5pm, also split branches from trees in High St in Renwick. A cloud of dust stirred up from the Wairau River, visible from across the valley, while debris blew along the streets.

Renwick resident Ian Douglas thought the wind was among the worst he had seen in 29 years.

"It's as rough as it gets."

A small fire in Blenheim early last night was also blamed on the strong winds.

A cardboard recycling bin in Lakings Rd caught fire after a cigarette butt was thrown close by.

Blenheim fire brigade senior station officer Nigel Botham said the wind definitely fanned the blaze.

However, the property owners managed to extinguish the flames before firefighters arrived, Mr Botham said.

The Marlborough Express