Residents flee as bush fire burns sheds

Last updated 07:33 23/12/2013
Bob Archer
Emma Allen
Close call: Bob Archer lost three sheds, including his partner's valuable swimsuit patterns and equipment
Andrew Lucas Zoom
Fire raged through bush in Port Underwood on Saturday.

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Marlborough Sounds resident Bob Archer says he didn't even have time to grab a lead or a collar for his dogs as he rushed to rescue them from a large bush fire threatening to engulf his home.

Mr Archer was sitting in his neighbour's living room when they saw smoke coming past the window. He had gone to visit his neighbour to check if the power was out at their property too.

"It all started with a power cut, that was the first we realised.

"I went up to the neighbour's just to confirm it was a power cut and not just us," he said.

They went outside to investigate and saw the fire tearing through another neighbour's shed.

"I came back down and grabbed the dogs and hot-footed it down to the beach and rang 111."

Residents and holidaymakers above the fire evacuated to a different beach, Hakahaka Bay, about 2.5 kilometres away, he said.

Unfortunately, Mr Archer wasn't able to save the contents of three of his sheds that were destroyed in the blaze.

One shed was used as a workshop by his partner, who makes swimwear.

All her machines were a tangled mess, he said. "But the biggest thing from her point of view . . . she has lost her patterns. They are all gone, the whole lot."

Her swimwear patterns were like software on a computer, Mr Archer said. "And she doesn't have backups."

His partner was on the Kapiti Coast, where they planned to spend Christmas, babysitting their grand-daughter.

In his other two outbuildings, Mr Archer had tools, video equipment and items he had inherited from his parents. He said the fire had cost him and his partner hundreds of thousands of dollars: "I dread to think . . . it's absolutely enormous."

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- The Marlborough Express


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