Stubble burn gets out of control

RACHEL ASKEW
Last updated 19:00 28/03/2014
South Otago fire
Fairfax NZ

CLEAN UP: Firefighters douse a blaze at a South Otago timber yard.

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About 20 firefighters from five brigades battled an out of control grass fire which spread into a timber yard in South Otago.

On Friday afternoon Kaihiku Eion Young farmer said he was carrying out a controlled stubble burn in his paddocks when the fire at one end spread past the area he had back-burned, into an "old heap of straw", then around a gate and into his timber yard.

He rang emergency services shortly before 4pm.

"I got there pretty quickly as soon as I was coming down the paddock I could see it."

Waiwera South chief fire officer Maurice Walter said the flames came through a line of trees before alighting on a low shed used to store machinery parts and a neighbouring stack of timber. 

Fire brigades from Waiwera South, Balclutha, Clinton, Clutha Valley and Tapanui attended the blaze, along with three water tankers and three pumps.

The Rural Fire Service was also at the scene.  

It took about an hour to get the fire under control, Mr Walter said.

The lumber yard, Young Partnership Ltd, closed last year and Mr Young said was in the process of selling off the timber. 

About six or seven packs of radiata pine were lost but "it could have been a lot worse," he said.

Duty rural fire officer Mike Harris said there should have been a permit for the burn-off as the district was in a restricted fire season, but there was simply a "misinterpretation" of the rules by Mr Young. 

"The landowner believed he didn't require a fire permit but in this case he does... it is an unfortunate event." 

He urged people to check the new requirements for fire permits on the Clutha District Council website. 

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