Fire­works cause of Mt Welling­ton fire

Central Leader - - SITUATIONS VACANT - STAFF REPORTER

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.

PAUL ARTUS/SUP­PLIED

Hun­dreds of peo­ple called emer­gency ser­vices as flames shot up from Mount Welling­ton.

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