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Gales fan forest fire in busy weekend for firefighters

By Hayley Gastmeier
[email protected]

Gale force winds fanned a forest fire at Ngahape yesterday, during an extremely busy weekend for firefighters throughout the region.

A Forest Enterprises block east of Masterton burnt throughout the entire day.

The blaze started yesterday morning when gusty weather blew down powerlines.

Howling gales made for “dangerous conditions” for those battling the blaze.

“It was certainly a battle against the wind,” Masterton Fire Service station officer Kevin Smith said.

Two helicopters with monsoon buckets doused the fire, thought to have engulfed under a hectare of pine forest.

As well as the Masterton Fire Service, firefighters from the Carterton Fire Brigade, Wairarapa Rural Fire, and the Wainuioru Rural Fire Party were on site from 9.30am.

They were backed up by Juken New Zealand forest fire fighting crew with tanker.

Mr Smith said the trees had not sustained much damage as it was “really just a ground fire”.

At 3.30pm yesterday the firefighters were released from duty, leaving the forestry crew to douse any hot spots.

Mr Smith said it had been the busiest weekend he had seen for some time for the region.

His crew had been called to many jobs, including one in Masterton where they secured an unstable car port, and another at Te Wharau where tree branches fell on powerlines.

They, along with Carterton and Greytown fire brigades, also attended a house fire yesterday morning.

An alternative energy house in Carrington caught fire after its windmill generated excess electricity in extreme winds.

Carterton fire chief Wayne Robinson said the home owners had smelt smoke.

“The house was solar powered plus turbine, and with the gale force winds it created too much electricity and it all heated up and set fire to a wall in the double garage.

“Some quick action by the owners and a quick response by the fire service, we were able to confine it to a part of the shed.”

The result was minor damage to a double garage attached to the house, Mr Robinson said.

The fire took about an hour to extinguish.

Following that fire, the Carterton Fire Service helped retrieve keys for a member of the public, who had dropped them “into a drain outside the swimming baths”.

Fire communications shift manager Jan Wills outlined other jobs Wairarapa fire crews had been to on Saturday and Sunday, which included multiple call-outs to downed powerlines.

Yesterday afternoon firefighters cleared tree branches that had fallen onto the railway tracks in Dalefield, Carterton.

Other jobs attended were a woodshed on fire at Norman Ave, Waingawa, which started from a neighbouring rubbish fire, fallen powerlines in Riversdale and at numerous other Wairarapa spots, rubbish fires in

Masterton, securing a shed roof which was blowing off, and a car crash at Te Ore Ore.

There was another car crash attended on Mikimiki Rd, north of Masterton, to which a police media spokesperson said the driver suffered minor injuries.

When this edition went to print Wairarapa fire crews had been called to at least 17 events throughout the region over the weekend.

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