Having witnessed a rather volatile bush fire earlier this year on Great Barrier Island due to last summer’s extreme conditions, I strongly advise residents to be vigilant in reporting any signs of fire or smoke via the 111 emergency system, no matter how small it may seem at the time. Early notification is paramount, even if it turns out to be a false alarm.
We were blessed on 5th November with a downpour of rain. However at approximately 1.15am on the following Monday morning we were turned out to a scrub fire on the side of Tarawera and Okareka Loop Roads as a result of misuse of fireworks, with the crews returning to the station at 4.30am. Whilst fireworks are fine in the hands of responsible people, perhaps IQ testing at the time of purchase may prevent them from getting into the hands of total idiots. The fire in question saw the fireworks not only lit in the middle of an intersection next to a commercial forest and farm scrub, but they were also set-off in extremely high wind. It was reassuring that we had full crews attending this incident given the time of night and the conditions.
We have also attended several sulphur fires in and around Sulphur Point in town. These must be one of the most picturesque fires I’ve ever attended as the flame is vivid blue in colour (very beautiful when viewed at night – almost a shame to put it out!). However, not only is there the usual danger associated with fighting any fire but the fumes from these sulphur fires are also very toxic.
As I was away playing chauffeur for the Taylor Swift concert in Auckland, I would like to say a big thank you to those members of the Fire Force who undertook the annual pilgrimage to the Lake Okareka Hall with our jolly friend, Santa. I hear Santa had a PA (aka the elf) this year!
As you are all well aware, please adhere to the fire restrictions this coming summer, especially if we enter a total fire ban which is highly likely.
On behalf of the Lake Okareka Fire Force, I would like to wish everyone a safe and happy festive season. For anyone wanting to contact the Fire Force, please phone me on 362 8874 or go to our website: www.okarekaruralfire.com.
Chief Fire Officer