A raging scrub fire came frighteningly close to setting alight a Fairy Springs property last night. Photo/Ben Fraser
Bernard St resident Jeremy Malcolm noticed the scrub fire, several metres high, burning on the railway tracks behind a neighbour's property about 5pm yesterday.
"I noticed the smell of smoke first and just thought it was someone burning rubbish, but then I saw it, it was huge, as tall as a tree," he said.
Mr Malcolm then rang the Fire Service before rushing to tell his neighbour about the blaze behind her property.
That neighbour, Miriana O'Brien, said she had no idea about the fire until Mr Malcolm told her it was raging.
"I honestly didn't know, not until the neighbours came over and rushed to see if I was okay and tried to use the hose to put out the fire," she said.
Ms O'Brien did not own the land that had been ablaze. She said she believed it belonged to whoever was responsible for the railway tracks.
The fire had advanced within metres of her home and was centimetres away from setting alight her woodshed.
"It was a really close call," Ms O'Brien said. "I'm just so grateful nothing was damaged and that the neighbours and the Fire Brigade had come so quick. They were here so fast."
Rotorua Fire Brigade senior station officer Colin Rolfe said the fire had not damaged any of the nearby properties but it had come close to doing so.
He said a single fire crew had arrived first, but another had to be called out because the fire was going in two directions and was putting properties at risk.
No one had been evacuated, he said.
The blaze had been contained shortly after 6pm.
Mr Rolfe said the fire could have been started by a group of children who were reportedly spotted on the railway tracks earlier.
Investigations were continuing.
"It's just so important that kids don't play with matches. It's so dangerous and can easily lead to fires like this," he said.
"Plus the conditions around the city are very dry at the moment, the grass is very dry and it means once fire is started fire it can spread and get out of hand very quickly."