Burn-off causes blaze

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 13:47 22/01/2013

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Firefighters battled a blaze in a pine plantation near Raglan today after a burn-off went wrong.

A woman who lives on the affected property, who asked not to be named, said a middle aged man had been clearing gorse from neighbouring Waingaro Marae yesterday and set it on fire.

She said the flames started to spread but it was kept under control and believed to be out last night.

But as she was coming back from Raglan this morning she saw ''a big cloud of smoke''.

The burn-off had reignited and spread into the 60m by 60m pine plantation on her property.

''Our neighbours, they had shovels and they were trying to stop it from spreading but the wind went in this way, that way, and it took off.That's the thing were we are on top of a hill we just caught all the wind.''

he said the man who had started the fire came to the scene and took full responsibility.Nobody was injured in the blaze but there was extensive damage to farm fences.

The fire service responded to the emergency call at 10.24am. Fire trucks from Raglan and Te Akau responded as well as a tanker from Ngaruawahia.

A chopper was also put on standby as the blaze spread in the warm, dry, breezy conditions.

Waikato District Council principal rural fire officer Andy Baker urged people to ensure they have a permit for any burn-offs.

''Just look around you as to the risks and think - is burning now the right option? Because it's so dry and if you've got pine trees around you and there's a bit of wind, is it worth it?''

Mr Baker said pine forests were particularly flammable at this time of year.

''You get what's called a duff layer which is pine needles and stuff on the ground underneath. The fire gets in there and it's really good fuel. It sort of smoulders and doesn't rage but it's pretty difficult stuff to fight.'' 

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