Monday, November 17, 2008

Kids admit starting Kapiti Coast fire

Three children have admitted lighting a fire that engulfed almost two hectares of scrub and threatened 10 houses and a school on the Kapiti Coast on Sunday.

The fire was one of more than 100 scrub fires around the country during the weekend marking a late start to the fire season according to the national Rural Fire Authority.

The Fire Service was called to the Kapiti blaze, in an area of bush behind Raumati South School at 2.50pm, central fire communications shift manager Tim Rees told NZPA.

Several properties were threatened and residents were evacuated.

Paraparaumu deputy chief fire officer Tim Morgan says the fire was under control within an hour and by 5pm they were dampening down hot spots.

He said none of the 10 houses threatened on Leinster Ave were damaged and all the residents had been allowed to return.

More than 60 firefighters and 12 appliances attended the blaze.

Detective Sergeant Ian Martin, of Kapiti, said three local boys, aged between 12 and 13 years, had admitted lighting the fire behind the school, and they had been referred to Youth Aid.

"There's no suggestion they were trying to set fire to the school," he told The Dominion Post.

"It's just kids being silly and lighting little fires."

Meanwhile another scrub fire caused major traffic delays on State Highway 2 in the Hutt Valley yesterday.

Inspector Steve Darroch from central police communications said northbound traffic on SH2, Western Hutt Rd, was backed up because of the fire just north of the Dowse interchange.

Motorists were advised to find alternative routes until firefighters brought the fire under control late afternoon.

In the South Island there were two scrub fires near Ashburton and another near Five Rivers, north of Invercargill.

At Wellsford, north of Auckland, more than 55 firefighters battled a fire which spread from a controlled burn on farmland from about 4pm Sunday. A helicopter dropped monsoon buckets of water on the 200m by 500m area.

About 11 tankers or pumps came from Wellsford, Silverdale, Kaiwaka, Warkworth, Matakana, Ahuroa, Puhoi, Mangawhai and a command unit was called from Auckland City.

At Pukekohe firefighters gained access along railway tracks to reach a fire on a farm on Paerata Rd in Pukekohe.

Northern fire communications centre shift manager Jaron Phillips said the fire had started from some sort of controlled burn-off. About five fire appliances attended.

Mr Phillips said firefighters attended about 113 scrub fires around the country - 20 in Auckland - between Friday night and 6.30pm Sunday.

"It does seem like a high number over a weekend."

The National Rural Fire Authority said it was a late start to the fire season but the fires signalled the need for extra vigilance.

Kids admit starting Kapiti Coast fire