Probe wanted into Bideford forest fire

Probe wanted into Bideford forest fire

22 March 2006

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New Zealand — A review is being sought into the handling of a fire that destroyed more than 200ha of pine trees at Maringi Forest at Bideford this month.

Maringi Forest manager Robin Britt said he last week requested that the Wairarapa District Rural Fire Board launch an operational review regarding the fire-fighting effort.

He refused to make further comment pending the outcome of the review.

Fire investigator Russell Joseph said the fire first started late morning on Tuesday, February 28. He was aware workers were in the forest pruning trees with chainsaws the same morning, and said this “more than likely” sparked the blaze.

The Times-Age earlier outlined how the fire had initially destroyed about 30ha of forest, and was believed out the next day before it re-ignited late that afternoon with a reported change in winds.

The fire raged uncontrolled through the Wednesday night and finally wiped out about 200ha of semi-mature pine trees at the 800ha block, which is owned by the Anglican Schools Forestry Trust.

By Friday the fire was deemed extinguished after involving about 100 firefighters, two bulldozers and two helicopters during its three-day fury.

“There were three established seats of fire. Two started after the fire was thought to be out. The purpose of the operational review will be to see whether the secondary fires could have been prevented,” Mr Joseph said.

“The whole purpose of a review is to identify whether the operation could have been done differently or if things could have been done better,” he said.

Wairarapa Rural Fire chief Phil Wishnowsky was not available for comment. 


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