The largest of three scrub fires that burned across the
Western Bay of Plenty yesterday is believed to have been
Firefighters were called to a large scrub fire on Te Tuhi
Track Rd in Whakamarama about 1pm yesterday.
Fire Service northern communications shift manager Jaron
Phillips said initial reports were of a 200 square metre
scrub fire but half an hour later it had escalated to 1.5
hectares and a helicopter was called in.
"This one's just been very difficult to access," he said.
Crews from Omokoroa, Waihi and Katikati as well as ground
crews from the rural Fire Service spent hours trying to get
the fire under control.
Mr Phillips said the helicopter continued to douse the major
flames until about 5pm.
Meanwhile, another large scrub fire broke out on Seaforth Rd
in Bowentown about 2.10pm.
Mr Phillips said it was a large fire which could be seen from
State Highway 2.
Two trucks from Waihi, as well as the Athenree and Waihi
Beach appliances, two water tankers and the coastguard boat
were used to attack the fire from multiple angles, he said.
"Certainly, the Bowentown one, we know wind fanned that fire.
It spread pretty rapidly."
Closer to Tauranga three crews from Greerton fire station and
a couple of tankers were called to extinguish an 80 square
metre bush fire on Adrine Lane in Ohauiti about 3.40pm.
By 6pm firefighters had all three fires under control.
Barry Low, principal rural fire officer for the Western Bay
Moana Fire Authority, said the suspicious blaze at Omokoroa
"We suspect it was deliberately lit. It took a lot of
resources and took volunteer crews away from their Sunday
afternoon with their families," he said.
Mr Low said he believed the fire at Bowentown was also
deliberately lit "if not carelessly lit".
Investigations would be held into the cause of the fires, but
Mr Low said there was always an increased fire risk with the
arrival of summer.
"We are getting up pretty high now with a lack of rain,
things are drying out pretty rapidly."
Mr Low said because of past seasons where the region
experienced a lot of rain, there was now a lot of growth.
"We have a lot of fuel to burn."
He asked people to be more aware of the risk of fire and take
extra care when lighting rubbish fires or disposing of
The Western Bay of Plenty region is under a Restricted Fire
Season, meaning anyone wanting to light a fire in the open
air must obtain a permit from their council.
- Bay ofPlenty Times with Kiri Gillespie