Blaze leaves farm work­ers home­less

Matamata Chronicle - - What’s On - PHILLIPA YALDEN

‘‘But it was like fart­ing against thunder - it wasn't go­ing to hap­pen, there was no chance, not with the wind, it was just hor­ren­dous.’’

Hot oil left unat­tended on a stove is the likely cause of the blaze that left a cou­ple of farm work­ers with noth­ing but their cars.

Mul­ti­ple call­ers rang in about the fire that broke out in the home at Rich­mond Downs, northwest of Mata­mata, shortly be­fore 2pm on Satur­day.

When the first truck from the Mata­mata fire bri­gade ar­rived the house was al­ready up in flames.

‘‘It was a to­tal loss - it was ab­so­lutely go­ing for it, re­ally well in­volved [in fire],’’ Mata­mata Fire Chief Kevin Cur­tis said.

The woman who lives in the home on a dairy farm out Pi­akoiti Rd was in­side when the fire started in the kitchen.

Cur­tis said a pot of oil left bub­bling on the stove was likely re­spon­si­ble.

‘‘She must have been deferred do­ing some­thing else and left it on the stove.

‘‘That’s the most prob­a­ble cause that we know of,’’ he said.

Neigh­bours rushed to the woman’s aid, armed with fire ex­tin­guish­ers try­ing to douse the blaze.

‘‘But it was like fart­ing against thunder - it wasn’t go­ing to hap­pen, there was no chance, not with the wind, it was just hor­ren­dous,’’ said Cur­tis.

Winds pum­melled the home si­t­u­ated on top of a hill in ru­ral Rich­mond Downs, he said, mak­ing for tough fire­fight­ing con­di­tions.

‘‘We have had very, very strong winds over the past week or 10 days and it was just fan­ning the fire in­cred­i­bly.

‘‘We were bat­tling strong north-east­erly winds com­ing straight into that and a short­age of wa­ter.’’

With no wa­ter retic­u­la­tion in the area and a short sup­ply, fire crews called in ad­di­tional tankers from Mor­rinsville and Te Aroha, along with an ad­di­tional four crews.

Mem­bers of the Mata­mata bri­gade, along with Te Aroha, Mor­rinsville and other neigh­bour­ing bri­gades were com­pet­ing in a wa­ter­ways chal­lenge in Mata­mata when the call came in.

Seven trucks al­to­gether were in at­ten­dance where fire crews spent three and a half hours putting out the blaze and damp­en­ing down any hot spots.

Cur­tis un­der­stood the cou­ple were farm man­agers on the dairy plot and did not have any con­tents in­sur­ance.

‘‘The garage was un­at­tached so all the ve­hi­cles and what­ever they had in there, they got out with.’’

CLIFF MCCHESNEY/SUP­PLIED

Mata­mata Fire Chief Kevin Cur­tis This Rich­mond Downs house was well ablaze when fire crews ar­rived last Satur­day.

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