Lightning strikes during the storm that swept through Wairarapa on Saturday night caused a number of power outages in the region, as well as a call out for Masterton Fire Brigade after a tree was hit and burst into flames.
Masterton Fire Station officer Doug Flowerday told the Times-Age that one appliance and one tanker responded to a report of a “rather large pine tree” that was burning after being struck by lightning on a property on Te Kanuka Rd, 19km outside Masterton off the Masterton-Castlepoint Rd.
The fire was “relatively easy” to put out, only taking about 20 minutes, but Flowerday said that given how dry conditions currently are – despite the rain dump that accompanied the storm – and the fact the burning tree was in a line of other trees, “things could have been very different if a chap hadn’t noticed the smoke and called it in”.
As such, Flowerday was full of praise for the quick action of the caller and took the opportunity to remind the region’s residents that “the Wairarapa remains in a total fire ban season, so people should call 111 immediately if they see any smoke, so we can go and check it out”.
Meanwhile, “a number of Wairarapa customers experienced momentary or longer power outages on Saturday evening, many because of lightning strikes”, a Powerco spokesperson said.
Among the outages caused by lightning strikes was one that blew fuses on the electricity network, resulting in power being lost to 287 properties in the Upper Plain Rd area between Masterton and Kaituna at 7.15pm on Saturday.
Because the damage to the electrical network from the strike was extensive, with transformer and line fuses needing to be replaced before the supply could be re-livened, crews were still working to restore power at 6pm last night.
Six customers on Parawai Rd in Greytown lost power at 7.33pm on Saturday after lightning hit a power pole, blowing fuses. Power was restored at 1.35am yesterday.
Earlier on Saturday evening, at 6.19pm, 689 customers lost power in and around Carterton following a lightning strike to the overhead line feeding the area, with power restored within 25 minutes, while three customers on Masterton-Martinborough Rd lost supply for five hours and 30 minutes after a branch was blown onto a power line just after 7pm [power was restored at 12.41am on Sunday morning].