Big blaze started by grinder

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 05:00 31/12/2012
Shane King and Jason Trethewey
STACY SQUIRES/Fairfax NZ
WATER WORKS: Shane King and Jason Trethewey, firefighters from Southbridge, dampen down a scrub fire near Larcombs Rd between Rolleston and Templeton yesterday.

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A large scrub fire that threatened homes near Rolleston was caused by a man working on a house bus.

The Fire Service received multiple calls from the public about the fire, which started near Larcombs Rd, between Rolleston and Templeton, about 11.18am yesterday.

Firefighters from Rolleston, Sockburn, Leeston, Southbridge, Dunsandel and Lincoln were sent to battle the blaze, with six fire appliances, five water tankers and the Christchurch command centre involved.

A helicopter was put on standby, but was not needed.

Rolleston volunteer fire brigade chief officer Nigel Lilley said the fire was caused by a man working on a house bus. He had been using a metal grinder, which had created sparks and ignited a nearby patch of grass.

At its peak, the fire spread to about one square kilometre, burning grass and macrocarpa hedges and threatening homes.

No-one was evacuated, but firefighters were close to ordering people out of the area, Lilley said.

"Fortunately we hit it hard and fast enough to not have to do that."

The fire took about 90 minutes to contain and firefighters spent the next few hours dampening down hot spots.

Lilley said the man would not be prosecuted following the fire.

"It was careless, but it was accidental."

Lilley called for people to take care when working outdoors though - especially if they were welding.

The Fire Service had not had to deal with many scrub fires so far this summer, but there was still a high risk of fire in the Selwyn area, he said.

"We've been pretty lucky; it's not as bad as we were anticipating, but it's pretty dry out there."

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- The Press

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