Families fought flames with spades, garden hoses and shoes to
protect their Havelock North homes yesterday.
Fifteen fire units responded to the grass fire fanned by
strong wind in Lane Rd at 11.40am.
Donald and Yvonne Grooby had no idea flames were threatening
their home in the steep gully until their children, who live
next door, rang them.
"We had just come inside when when they said there's a fire
up behind your place,"
Mrs Grooby said.
As the Groobys climbed the hill, the wind changed direction
and the flames travelled towards them in knee-high grass.
"We decided to put the hose on it but that wasn't going to do
much good," Mrs Grooby said.
The flames continued burning towards their home, despite the
prevailing wind blowing in the opposite direction.
With neighbours, they fought flames alongside fire units from
from Havelock North, Haumoana, Hastings, Napier, Taradale and
Rural fire services.
Flames came within 30m of the Groobys'
home, as it did with two others.
When firefighters asked if they had a swimming pool, the
Grooby family gave their household water supply.
About 4ha was burned before the fire was brought under
Havelock North chief fire officer Alvin Wakeford said the
fire was getting close to houses "but there was no screaming
panic about it. We managed to hold everything back."
The fire service would return to the site to make sure it had
not reignited, and land owners would be making patrols.
"It's been pretty well dampened, I'm confident it won't come
up again," Mr Wakeford said.
The exact cause of the fire, which started on the Robbie and
properties, remained a mystery, though an arcing electric
fence was suspected.
Geoff Maultsaid said he had seen "flames running along the
Hastings District Council principal rural fire officer Trevor
Mitchell said the fire was a timely reminder that the total
fire ban, including fireworks, was in place for an extremely
"We have had a bit of rain before Christmas and while it has
put a bit of green into the countryside it has not been
enough to stop the fire danger," Mr Mitchell said.
"Long grass is a problem. It is browning off a little
- Patrick O'Sullivan of Hawke's Bay Today