Lifestyle

‘Massive relief’ no houses touched in Upper Hutt blaze


An Upper Hutt resident heard flames crackling and trees cracking in half as a large fire incinerated the bush near her home, saying it’s a “massive relief” more damage wasn’t done.

Firefighters worked tirelessly for hours from Saturday afternoon to evening, as the blaze burnt through 14 hectares in Trentham and sent thick plumes across the valley.

Starting out near Evergreen Crescent, flames crept closer and closer to homes.Ten nearby properties were asked to prepare to evacuate, and residents to conserve water as the reservoir was used to douse the blaze.

Charred landscape in the bush in Trentham – following a large scrub fire in Trentham.

Monique Ford/Stuff

Charred landscape in the bush in Trentham – following a large scrub fire in Trentham.

By Sunday morning, most of the fire had been contained, Fire and Emergency ground crews and helicopters started work at 6.15 am to dampen down hot spots.

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A persistent smell of smoke lingered in the neighbourhood on Sunday afternoon, resident Teina Lander said.

Pictured on Saturday afternoon, the fire sent thick wafts of smoke across the Hutt Valley.

MONIQUE FORD/Stuff

Pictured on Saturday afternoon, the fire sent thick wafts of smoke across the Hutt Valley.

Lander saw the “quite huge” fire unfold on Saturday – after starting out small near Evergreen Crescent it drifted up the hillside in the hot afternoon.

It was moving further towards Rimutaka prison and houses on Gallipoli Rd, and it flared up again around 6pm.

“As it got closer you could hear the fire and trees collapsing from around it, honestly it was quite scary to hear.

“It was quite a loud crackling, every now and then you’d hear a pop and a tree smacking in half.”

Lander said as the fire crawled close to the houses, things became scarier – she said it was a “massive relief” no houses were touched, as her place was about 500 metres from where it stopped.

“The firefighters did a really good job of containing it, now it’s just smoked out.”

Crews are dampening out hotspots late Sunday morning.

Monique Ford/Stuff

Crews are dampening out hotspots late Sunday morning.

Parts of the hillside are charred as crews continue operations throughout Sunday.

Fire and Emergency NZ incident controller Craig Cottrill​ said 10 engines and 30 firefighters were on scene on Sunday afternoon.

The fire was contained, he said. Crews were concentrating on heavy burning areas inside the burn, and were blacking out 50 to 30 metres around the outside of the fire.

“[Residents] won’t see any flames or smoke near the perimeter of the fire,” Cotrill said in a Facebook post.

Firefighters on the scene in Upper Hutt as flames charred trees on Saturday afternoon.

Shonty Rogan/Supplied

Firefighters on the scene in Upper Hutt as flames charred trees on Saturday afternoon.

Crews would be at the scene on Sunday throughout the day and night, and will return on Monday, he said.

Smoke may continue to be visible over the next few days.

Residents in Trentham and Silverstream are asked to shut windows and doors if affected by the lingering smoke.

The fire did not grow significantly over Saturday night but had burnt through more vegetation after a flare up just after 6pm.

No properties needed to be evacuated in the end, a spokesperson said.

Residents watch the fire on nearby swings as smoke blankets roofs in Upper Hutt.

Shonty Rogan/Supplied

Residents watch the fire on nearby swings as smoke blankets roofs in Upper Hutt.

Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy said he could still smell the smoke on Sunday morning, where he lived about 1 km away from the blaze.

“It was hot all day yesterday and there was a breeze – the fire was getting close to the Pine hill subdivision but certainly with that breeze it moved the fire up the hillside.”



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