Northland fire crews protect homes from blaze

Northland fire crews protect homes from blaze

23 January 2012

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New Zealand — Northland fire crews have dampened down a forest blaze that came within metres of houses earlier this evening.

Fire communications shift manager Jaron Phillips said one helicopter and several ground crews were currently fighting the fire north of Te Kao, in the far north, about 46 km from Cape Reinga. The fire started about 5.30pm.

Ground crews from Kaitaia earlier worked to protect homes bordering the 20-hectare fire, but there had been no evacuations.

Northland principal rural fire officer Miles Taylor said the fire was under control by 11pm.

However, crews were expected to work throughout the night and into the morning.

“Tomorrow they’ll be doing a mop-up.”

Jaron Phillips said it was not known how the fire, in forest ”cut over”- young trees planted to replace cut forests – began.

At the end of last year Northland helicopter pilot John “Prickles” de Ridder and Conservation Department ranger William Macrae, 54, of Kaitaia were killed as they tried to fight a massive scrub fire on the Karikari Peninsula, also in the Far North.

The fire was later found to be deliberately lit.

A spate of fires ravaged Northland in the latter parts of 2011, many of which were deemed suspicious.

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