Keep your pool full - fire chief

ANNA TURNER AND JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 13:39 17/01/2013
blaze11
Don Scott

REFUEL: A helicopter takes water from a swimming pool to fight the fire in Selwyn last week.

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Pool owners near last week's wildfire have been asked to keep them full of water in case helicopters are required for another fire. 

The request was made at a Selwyn District Council-organised community meeting for fire-affected residents at the Lincoln Event Centre last night, attended by about 150 people.

The Broadfield School pool and a number of private pools were used as a water supply for helicopter monsoon buckets during last Thursday's fire.

The water was doused on a number of homes in the area, with at least one homeowner saying the monsooning saved his home. 

Pool owners were also asked to keep the pool covers off to allow for an immediate response. 

Fire incident controller Douglas Marshall said the meeting provided key contact numbers and allowed residents to provide feedback and ask questions about property access, long grass in the area and replanting.

It was also simply a chance for residents "to have a cup of tea" together, he said. 

The fire, which started in private land behind a quarry, affected about 30 properties, including 20 households, over 150 hectares near Selwyn, Shands and Robinsons roads. 

Marshall said long grass was a ''difficult question'' in a rural area, as while it could create a fire risk, it was also used for hay-making. 

Judith Smith lost a hay shed and a combine harvester to the blaze.

''The whole shed was full of hay and was lost and my brother-in-law's combine harvester was in there. It's a shame to lose that right before the harvest.''

She and her husband Bruce had also had to sell some sheep as a result of the fire.

''We had some grass fields which went up and so it was a case of we couldn't have the sheep any more.''

However, Smith still felt she had been ''incredibly lucky''.

''The fire went all around the house but the house is undamaged. The firefighters were fantastic. They kept the fire from spreading any further,'' she said.

''The damage is frustrating but we will just have to deal with it. It'll keep us busy.''

Fellow Robinsons Rd resident Heidi Brace said there had been ''dramatic'' damage to farm property, fences and fields on the street.

''It's hard because we've lost property value but we still have our houses. So in some respects it's a glass half full situation but it's also a glass half empty.'' 

Across the road, Stephen and Judith Holland had been lucky only to have damage to fences.

''We don't have a hedge at the front of our house so that saved us some damage. We were pretty lucky,'' Judith said.

''Our fences are insured at least. People have lost a lot more. Some of our neighbours have had very significant property damage.''

A helicopter which used water from their swimming pool to help extinguish the fire had also caused minor damage, but the Hollands did not mind.

''We're glad that we could help in some way."

Meanwhile a relief fund set up by the Selwyn council has gathered more than $9,600 in donations.

The council said the fund would not be distributed for a number of weeks.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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