Blaze puts strain on SC fire crews

19 fire appliances deployed

ALEXIA JOHNSTON
Last updated 12:11 03/03/2014
Le Bretons Rd fire
Sam Sherwood

STILL GOING STRONG: Fire crews battle the still-burning farm land on Le Bretons Rd.

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Timaru's fire crews have been under strain overnight after all rostered staff deployed to a large farm blaze near Ashburton.

Fire fighters from Timaru, Temuka and Geraldine were sent to the ''very large'' fire on Le Bretons Rd, Wakanui. The Timaru based command unit was also sent to the scene.

Assistant Area Commander Steven Greenyer said the fire has destroyed ''several thousand'' bales of hay and is threatening thousands more. It has also destroyed an implement shed, a wool shed and farm machinery.

There have been 19 fire appliances and tankers working off and on at the scene, with 10 on site at once during the peak of the fire.

South Canterbury and Ashburton district fire fighters were later joined by crews from Christchurch and Rolleston. South Canterbury units were called to assist from 8.30pm.

''The main effort was concentrated on preventing the fire spreading to other buildings and several thousand unburnt bales of hay,'' Mr Greenyer said.

He was not yet sure what had started the blaze.

''It's still burning. It will still be burning for quite some considerable time.''

It was a very large fire - one of the biggest rural fires the district had seen for some time, he said.

Timaru's crew has since returned to Timaru, but it was not yet known if they would be needed back in Wakanui after a rest.

The command unit is still on site, but was expected to return to Timaru at noon.

South Canterbury fire brigades have had a busy weekend. Its hectic run started in the early hours of Saturday, when a fire ripped through an Oxford St, Timaru, home. A man escaped the inferno, but his dog died.

The fire service was also called to a Beaconsfield Rd address at 7.30pm, yesterday, after a resident could smell something burning. It was believed to have been an air conditioning unit.

Another callout was made an hour later to a Luxmore Rd address, but it was a false alarm.

''[The Ashburton fire], along with the fires on Saturday and Sunday mornings, have taxed the staffing in Timaru, which has had to call in off duty staff to assist, or provide cover to Timaru while eight on duty staff were in Ashburton,'' Mr Greenyer said.

''I would like to praise the staff, many of whom have been on duty for extended hours and the Temuka crews who have assisted out of their district three times this weekend.''

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- The Timaru Herald

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