Sparks from a fire in a conservation area next to Albert Town
may have been what set fire to a house in a street about 150m
The Wanaka Fire Brigade and appliances from other volunteer
brigades were called about 5pm yesterday to a fire raging in
kanuka in the Department of Conservation's Hikuwai
conservation area in Gunn Rd.
About the same time, there was a call to a small rental house
downwind of the fire, in Bernard Rd.
Local residents said the fire in the conservation area was
fanned by quite strong winds and they saw glowing branches of
kanuka flying over their houses.
They suspected one of those set fire to the hedge outside the
Bernard Rd house.
Wanaka Chief Fire Officer Ian Galloway agreed the ''spot
fire'' was likely to have originated from the conservation
An occupant of the damaged house, Jordan Macgregor (32), who
was at work at the time, said the hedge fire set off lpg
tanks which spread the fire to one side of the house.
''The neighbours rallied and got the water on it, but it was
Mr Macgregor said his brother, Alistair (28), was in the
house but escaped uninjured with their two dogs.
There was considerable smoke and water damage. The brothers
have found alternative accommodation.
As the flames from the conservation area threatened houses
next door and on the opposite side of Gunn Rd, residents
fought the fire with garden hoses, buckets of water and even
a chilly bin.
Jacqui Lewis and Simon Maddison feared the flames would take
hold in a large tree outside their house and then spread.
However, the wind swept the flames on to the
next-door-neighbour's wooden fence.
Residents, and a passing mountain biker, managed to stop it
spreading further, into the garden and towards the house.
Real estate agent Jarrod Fraser said he was on his way home
when he spotted the fire in his rear view mirror. He stopped,
called the brigade and then helped tackle the flames.
Mr Galloway commended those who helped, although he advised
members of the public to beware of getting too involved with
the main fire front during similar situations.
It was lucky the wind dropped as the fire progressed, he
The cause is being investigated by a fire safety officer from
Mr Galloway said conditions were ''tinder dry''.