Crews fight Woodend Beach blaze

CAROLINE KING
Last updated 12:32 22/11/2012

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Firefighters battled a plantation fire in Woodend Beach that threatened a nearby house for six hours last night.

The Fire Service was alerted to the blaze at a private property on Jelfs Rd about 6pm.

Waimakariri principal rural fire officer Tim Sheppard said the blaze burnt close to a hectare of mature pines on the Jelfs Rd property.

The fire was so hot that it began spreading to the tops of the trees in some places, Sheppard said.

The blaze surprised fire crews as the grass looked green, but it was "deceptively" dry underneath, despite decent rainfall for this time of year, he said.

Fire crews remained at the property until midnight last night ensuring the blaze was fully extinguished.

But even this morning when Sheppard returned he found the man whose neighbouring house was threatened armed with buckets of water damping down hot spots, where smoke could be seen rising from the ground.

"He didn't get much sleep last night. He was out patrolling half the night making sure his house was OK. His house was right beside it. It could well have been threatened," he said.

Sheppard said the ignition source of the fire was unknown.

There had been reports of arson in the area, as well as unsupervised controlled burns, he said.

Sheppard reminded people they were not to leave fires unattended.

"If people are burning they must be in attendance and ensure it's out before they leave it. Ninety per cent of our calls are from fire ignitions from fires that people think are out."

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