Fireworks cause of Mt Wellington fire
Fireworks let off on Auckland’s Mt Wellington on New Year’s Eve started a fire which burned in perfect circles and threatened to injure those above.
Hundreds of people called emergency services as flames shot up from the volcanic cone just after 12am.
Mt Wellington’s senior station officer Stuart Millar said a large group of young men had set off fireworks on the dry grass.
The fire burnt in two perfect circles which was a natural phenomenon and not a result of anything malicious, he said. ‘‘The two rings are essentially the fire spreading and the circle is the burnt out area.’’
Millar said there were a number of people on the hilltop above the fire who reported having breathing difficulties because of the large plumes of smoke that billowed up. ‘‘It had the potential to get quite big. It was pretty stupid on those young guys behalf to set off fireworks on a mountain with dry grass.’’
Luckily the fire stopped when it reached the road, he said.
Police confirmed they were investigating the fire.
Hadyn Godfrey was watching the Sky Tower display from the side of Mount Wellington, and saw the chaos unfold.
‘‘It was right after the countdown, only a minute or so after the fireworks started in town,’’ he said.
‘‘Someone started shooting a Roman candle, and they shot it down over the hill.
‘‘A couple of minutes after that we saw a whole bunch of smoke, and people said there was a fire.’’
Dana Franklin saw the fire while driving back from a fireworks display at Mission Bay, and said Panmure was blanketed in thick smoke.
‘‘The smoke plumes were absolutely massive ... It was surreal to see,’’ she said.
It took fire crews two hours to extinguish the flames.
Witness Mallory Winfield said she saw the ambers catch fire when she opened her blinds to watch the fireworks. ‘‘Initially it was two fires and they joined together.
‘‘I don’t think the persons setting them off realised because they kept setting off fire works until it was well established and the smoke was blowing over the top of the mountain,’’ she said.
The damage was clearly visible on Sunday, with a large area of ground charred black on the side of Mount Wellington.
Hundreds of people called emergency services as flames shot up from Mount Wellington.