An Upper Waingawa Rd resident said without her neighbour’s 1000 litre water truck the fire damage would have been much worse. PHOTO/ALEYNA MARTINEZ

ALEYNA MARTINEZ
aleyna.martinez@age.co.nz

An Upper Waingawa Rd couple got lucky on Tuesday after flames from a burn-off of damp wood in an old bath were caught by the wind and started a fire.

Fortunately, their neighbour, ‘Fish’, happened to have a 1000 litre water truck handy, which allowed them to keep the flames down before fire officers arrived.

“It could have turned into something bigger if it travelled another 10 metres,” Masterton Fire Station officer Mike Cornford said.

“Sparks caught on to some polythene that was covering two motorbikes and a lawnmower and some firewood.

“It’s about 17km out of town.

“The owners and the neighbour did a great job of stopping it spreading until we got there.”

The female owner of the property, who did not want to be named, said, “The boards [in the bath] weren’t long and the wood was damp.”

After lighting the fire she had placed a metal guard over the top of the bath before returning inside her house.

When she came back out the fire had started.

“It took about an hour to put out the fire, it was really quite big”, she said.

“If it wasn’t for [Fish] across the road with his water truck, we would have been stuffed – he actually drove his truck straight through his gate when he saw the fire.”

The motorbikes, one belonging to a family member, a ride-on lawnmower and wheelbarrow were destroyed in the fire.

She said the large piles of wood on the property were there because the family were pruning trees which had started to grow over their house.

It was the rubber from the bikes which made the fire bigger, she said.

Having lived on the property for nine years she said, “I’ve never ever been involved in anything like this in all my life – it is nice out here but when it comes to things like this it would have been a lot worse if the neighbour didn’t have the water truck.

“We’re really grateful he had it. We’ll be thinking twice about where we stack this stuff now.”

Later in the afternoon another fire flared up during a topping exercise on Upper Manaia Rd.

A Fire Service spokesperson said the 300mx50m fire, which started at about 3.45pm, involved scrub, grass and trees.

It was caused by a rotary mower hitting a stone which sent a spark out into the long, dry grass.