Burnoff gets out of control
Motueka landowner Wayne Wooff was nearly caught out on Tuesday morning by a controlled burnoff on his property that grew and grew.
He said he had recently cleared some gorse from his Harley Rd property, obtaining a fire permit to burn it off in two piles. One was successfully burnt last week, and yesterday he and a friend had cleared a firebreak around the second before setting it alight at 10.30am.
All appeared to be going well until a single ember "jumped" 6-8 metres into a standing gorse bush. After 20 minutes trying to fight the fire, Mr Wooff called in the Waimea Rural Fire service.
"I knew there was a chance that it would burn out, but there was also a risk that it could leap into my neighbour's pine patch. Just one spark, and we were in a situation that was uncomfortable to say the least."
The fire service took an hour and a half to put out the fire, which was around 500 square metres at its biggest.
Waimea Rural Fire District principal rural fire officer Ian Reade said Mr Wooff appeared to be a "sensible chap" who had done everything right, but was caught out.
"As soon as he realised he had a problem on his hands he dialed 111 and we got in there."
Mr Reade said he wanted other landowners to take heed of Mr Wooff's near miss as this was a time of year when fires could easily get out of hand. Even materials such as a hillside covered in gorse the day after rain could prove flammable.
"People light fires and then as soon as it starts think ‘I wish I hadn't done that'."
- © Fairfax NZ News