Blaze leaves farm workers homeless
‘‘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.’’
Matamata Fire Chief Kevin Curtis This Richmond Downs house was well ablaze when fire crews arrived last Saturday.