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House destroyed in blaze

By Hayley Gastmeier

[email protected]

A two-storey house in Ngawi was destroyed by a massive fire overnight on Tuesday.

At its peak, about 30 firefighters worked to bring the blaze under control, but there was little they could do to save the house.

And it could have been worse, had the fire not been stopped from spreading to neighbouring properties by those arriving first at the scene.

A two-storey house in Ngawi was destroyed by a massive fire. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
A two-storey house in Ngawi was destroyed by a massive fire. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

“It’s completely gutted, it’s gone,” said Porky Sexton, South Wairarapa District Council fire officer and the Wairarapa Rural fire officer.

“Only the block wall foundation is left standing, and all the corrugated iron of the roof is buckled and bent and has collapsed.”

The house, thought to be built in the late 1960s or early 1970s, was in the main street of the fishing township, and had been unoccupied.

Mr Sexton said it was owned by a family in Wainuiomata who used it as a bach.

After attending the wreckage yesterday morning, the family had “gone away pretty upset”.

The fire was not thought to be suspicious, Mr Sexton said.

The Ngawi Volunteer Rural Fire Force were first to the scene, arriving at around midnight.

They were backed up by crews from Martinborough, Featherston, Carterton, Masterton, and staff from Wellington, with some firefighters still at the house at 8 yesterday morning.

Fire controller for the Ngawi Volunteer Rural Fire Force Ken Feast said at one stage at least 30 firefighters were on the ground fighting the blaze.

“It was pretty big for a little village like this.

“I’ve been a part of the place all my life and we’ve never had a house fire like that.”

Mr Feast said the house was essentially “burnt to the ground”.

“It’s a pretty devastating result. It was a two-storey home and it’s totally gutted.

“There’s only foundation works and a lot of charred timber and some bent iron works.

“The house is knackered.”

Martinborough Fire Brigade chief Bill Butzbach said because there was no fire hydrant in Ngawi the water had to be drawn from the ocean – “which is always tricky, but especially at night, and with waves”.

Mr Butzbach said even though the house was “totally gutted”, the mission was considered a “success in that the fire was confined to the building of origin”.

“As I understand it the volunteer Rural Fire Force of Ngawi did a very good job of containing the fire, by protecting the adjacent properties with the little bit of water they did have in their tank on the truck.”

As well as pumping water from the sea, water was also drawn from a nearby residential water tank, Mr Butzbach said.

He said the Martinborough volunteer crew returned to their base at 7.30am, with many having to go straight to paid jobs.

The Masterton Fire Service dampened hot spots until after 8am.

The house would be closely monitored in the coming days.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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