Lightning strike destroys DOC office
A Department of Conservation office has been razed after a nearby transformer was struck by lightning amid a fierce storm that lashed the Waikato.
Staff that operate out of the Pureroa DOC field office on Barryville Rd have been left devastated after the blaze that raged early Wednesday.
The fateful bolt was one of the 700 or so lightning strikes that hit over land in the Waikato and Waitomo regions in the six hours from 1am.
Around 4.30am a farmer going out to milk his cows noticed the hue of the fire emanating from the field offices that is situated about 1.5km from the main State Highway 30, Mangakino Fire Chief Craig Snowball said.
Residents in the nearby village had also woken to the lightning, hearing the bang as it directly struck the transformer.
‘‘There has been a lightning strike, which hit the transformer and blew out two metre boxes on the power pole near the buildings.
‘‘We’re 90 per cent sure that’s what caused the fire but we won’t know for sure until they do a test on the lines which run underground there,’’ Snowball said.
Snowball, who was woken by his dog barking as thunder struck over Mangakino, said lightning was firing up the skies as the crew made the 30km trip south.
Some of Mangakino’s streets were already surface flooded and another lightning strike had set off the fire alarm at the Mangakino Telephone Exchange, cutting the main landline network in the darkness.
By the time the first crews reached the site on Barryville Rd, half of the single storey building was in flames.
‘‘Half of it was already on the ground - due to its vicinity and the lack of water out there.’’
‘‘We had to wait for a water tanker to turn up.’’
Snowball said locals had rallied and arrived with their own equipment, including a pump that was used to pump water from the creek to fill up the fire trucks rotating from the blaze until a tanker arrived from Otorohanga.
‘‘We were able to save about 10 to 15 per cent of the building. Half of it is on the ground and the rest of it has it’s roof caved in.’’
All of the office equipment, smoko room, and staff offices were destroyed, he said.
Up to 12 field staff use the offices with three permanently based there.
Doc staff had managed to salvage radio and field gear and a stone carving donated by a local school.
About 90 per cent of the field office was burned to the ground.
DOC hut goes up in flames.