Firefighters kept busy by outbreaks in region

SASHA BORISSENKO AND SARAH DUNN
Last updated 11:20 20/01/2014
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

ON THE SCENE: A firefighter at the blaze on the Kina Peninsula on Friday afternoon.

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High winds, heat and low humidity fanned eight fires across the Tasman district on Friday in conditions that have been compared with those of Australia.

Waimea Rural Fire Authority principal rural fire officer Ian Reade said nobody was injured in any of the fires, saying his team managed to get to each of them in time to prevent significant loss of life or property.

The action started with a scrub fire off Todd Valley Rd and ended close to 10pm with a motor home that went up in flames near Spooner's Range in Tapawera.

The scrub fire was limited thanks to residents taking firesmart precautions, Mr Reade said.

The half hectare lifestyle block had trees that were recently pruned and had a road surrounding them

. While the cause of the fire was still to be determined, Mr Reade said flames were unable to climb up the trees because of the successful pruning.

Quick action prevented a fire started in strong winds by a fallen power line from spreading to houses on the Kina Peninsula on Friday.

Treescape worker Paul Angus said he was driving out to the peninsula on Friday to attend to some trees that had fallen over in the wind when he smelled smoke.

Up to seven trees had fallen on to power lines in the area, he said.

When they got out there he saw sparks in the trees.

When he realised a fire had started, the crew got out there as quickly as possible.

Treescape business manager Lian Polak said he saw the fallen power lines that caused the fire.

He wanted to congratulate Mr Angus for his fine nose and good sense of smell.

Two helicopters carrying monsoon buckets, rural and fire service crews from Brightwater, Tasman, Mapua and Appleby fought the blaze.

Mr Reade said the fire spread up to three hectares along the beach, and the crews stopped it spreading further.

Crews worked from the eastern to the western side in attempt to contain the fire, which got very close to a property on the western side.

"Residents were calling and getting really nervous," he said.

"Had we let it burn, the properties in the area would have been at risk, but we stopped it getting to that point."

Helicopters first assessed the scene and at that stage it was spreading quite quickly.

"When you get high winds, high temperatures and low humidity together, that's what makes fires go. That's when you start getting conditions like Australia."

It was a very risky time of year and the public had to be very vigilant and take precautions in these windy conditions, he said.

The rural fire team and firefighters from forestry teams continued to "mop up" flare-ups overnight and this morning. A team will check on it tomorrow.

Network Tasman chief executive Wayne Mackey said power had automatically been cut as soon as the trees hit the power line, although this did not prevent a grassfire.

He said the power cut out at 12.54pm, affecting 243 consumers in Tasman and Kina before being restored at 1.40pm.

It remained off for 31 consumers at Kina Peninsula as firefighters continued to battle the blaze, preventing repairs to the power line. Mr Mackey said on Friday that he hoped power could be restored to Kina Peninsula by 7pm last night.

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A tree also fell through lines in the Brooklyn Valley at 12.30pm. This cut supply to 657 consumers in Brooklyn, Little Sydney, Dehra Doon and the Takaka Hill.

Quick action by Delta Utilities clearing the tree and repairing the downed lines had power back on for all properties by 2.45pm.

- The Nelson Mail

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