Rotorua, New Zealand — Fireworks have destroyed a stand of native bush in the Central North Island.
The Turangi Fire Service fought a large scrub fire raging on both sides of State Highway 47 about 4.45pm on Saturday. Two helicopters using monsoon buckets and five fire appliances, including engines from Turangi, Taupo, Rotorua and Omori, were used to battle the blaze which spread across 400m and took more than three hours to extinguish. The highway linking Turangi with National Park was closed until 8.15pm.
Deputy chief fire officer Gary Fitzgerald said the major fire was fireworks-related and the matter had been handed topolice.
“Prior to fireworks [going on sale] we commence our training making sure our equipment is up to scratch and ready to go,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
In Rotorua, firefighters were called to a few “nuisance” fires over the weekend, including grass fires in Augustus Earle Pl, Koutu Rd and Morey St on Saturday night and a small bush fire in Linton Park at noon on Sunday.
Firefighters also extinguished bonfires at Henare Pl and Hemo Rd on Saturday night, and a suspicious rubbish skip fire at Owhata Primary School. Senior station officer Cameron McEwen said although all were fireworks-related, they were a nuisance rather than serious.
Yesterday the Rotorua Fire Service also dealt with a house fire in Bronte Pl, as well as scrub fires in Kaingaroa and Reporoa and a deliberately lit rubbish fire just past Rainbow Springs Nature Park.
About 7pm a small blaze started at the rear of the McAlpine building on Vaughan Rd.
“Fireworks were found near where the fire was,” Mr McEwen said.
A grass fire in Baxter Pl and two bonfires took the attention of fire fighters until about 10pm when a Warwick Rd child noticed smoke under the eaves of his home alerting his parents to a fire in the roof, Mr McEwen said.
Damage was contained to the roof. A rubbish fire on Te Ngae Rd and a tree fire in Murupara kept them busy until the early hours, he said.
Meanwhile, a Malfroy Rd resident awoke today to find their letterbox blown up.
In Taupo, the Fire Service was called to minor fireworks-related scrub fires on Saturday at Tongariro St about 12pm and at Tamatea Rd.