Call to fireproof rural homes

The need to fireproof homes in remote areas has been highlighted after fire destroyed a farm house up the Whanganui River valley.

The fire is believed to have started in a shed next to an old homestead on the Morikaunui Incorporation station at Ranana then spread to a home next door.

The home, which was used as a staff house, was occupied but no one was injured when the blaze took hold around 4.30pm on Monday.

Fire trucks from both Wanganui and Raetihi brigades went to the scene but the property was well alight by the time they arrived.

Wanganui fire safety officer John Hotter said that because of the fire's location, it took the Wanganui truck more than an hour to get there.

"By then it was well alight," Mr Hotter said.

Lisa McLeod, whose husband Nigel manages the 4900ha sheep and cattle farm, said the house had been totally destroyed.

"There's only a couple of bits of roof iron left," Mrs McLeod said.

Mr Hotter said the fire in an isolated rural area underlined the need for landowners to be prepared.

The fire trucks had water only in their tanks and what was available from the property.

"Getting access to water in those rural areas is always an issue and it emphasises again the need for those living in the country to consider having firefighting water supplies available.

Mr Hotter said it also highlighted the effectiveness of sprinkler systems.

"I'm not saying it would have made a major difference in those case but at least it would have suppressed the fire for a while."

He said retro-fitting a sprinkler system in an old home was not difficult.

"The ceiling cavity in those older homes is usually spacious and it just means installing a ring main and running the sprinkler system from that."

- By John Maslin of the Wanganui Chronicle

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