Ahipara fire: About 100 households evacuated as crews continue to tackle blaze

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A bush fire in the Far North township of Ahipara quickly took off yesterday, a resident says, and resulted in 100 households being evacuated last night.

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Photo: Facebook / Fire and Emergency NZ

Firefighters were called yesterday at 5.45pm to the Ahipara Gumfields Historic Reserve, where about 100 hectares of vegetation had been burnt.

Helicopters have resumed operations today.

They were stood down when darkness fell, but up to 60 ground crew kept working overnight to contain the blaze.

Late last night, Fire and Emergency said the fire was slowly spreading east and had burnt an area of about 100 hectares.

Far North district mayor John Carter told Morning Report things were looking mostly under control now.

“When the helicopters left last night there was a continuation of the spread of the fire, it probably had a front of one and a half to two kilometres at one stage and it was getting close to some of the properties but fortunately there’s been no loss of life, damage or injuries.”

Fire and Emergency spokesperson Paul Radden said there were places for evacuees to go to for assistance.

“We, with the assistance of police, had to evacuate approximately 100 houses and set up a welfare centre in the Ahipara rugby club and Roma Marae.”

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Photo: Supplied / Medadane Kipa

Carter said it was likely residents could return today.

Ahipara resident Medadane Kipa said the fire took off very quickly.

“Our street, Reef View Road was one of the first to be evacuated because it goes up the maunga, but yeah I was cooking my dinner and I smelt the fire.

“When I came outside I thought ‘woah that’s not somebody’s little back yard fire it’s a fire fire’ then the sirens started and the fire engines started arriving.”

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Photo: Supplied / Medadane Kipa

Kipa said it got bigger and bigger and came over the ridge of the hill.

“It wasn’t long before ash started raining down, I’d left my bedroom window open and my bed is covered in it,” Kipa said.

“I’m blown away the work the firefighters have done overnight, the fire is a lot smaller today and there’s not as much smoke.

“The fact that houses didn’t burn down is mind boggling because that was a big fire, it was raging.”

Kipa’s father runs a butcher in town so she dropped some meat at Roma Marae and Te Rarawa Rugby Club.

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Photo: Facebook / Fire and Emergency NZ

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