Crews from three brigades and a rural fire force spent more than four hours fighting a major vegetation fire outside Kerikeri on Thursday. The blaze was believed to have started at around 4.40pm, when a fire lit by tree contractors jumped into a hedgerow on Orangewood Rd, high winds quickly driving the flames through the crowns of the trees and blowing embers into a second row of trees on the other side of the orchard. Kerikeri’s Chief Fire Officer, Les Wasson, said about 90m of hedgerow was involved, with appliances and tankers from Kerikeri, O¯ kaihau and Kawakawa, and Kaikohe-based Rural Fire, responding. A digger was used to pull down trees to stop the flames spreading further. Seven people, including two children on their way to school, were injured in a two-car crash on the intersection of Taupo Bay Rd and State Highway 10, south of Mangonui yesterday morning.
The accident, at about 8.40am, involved a Subaru Legacy stationwagon turning right out of Taupo Bay Rd and a Nissan Elgrand van travelling south on SH10.
The Subaru, which was on its way to nearby Oruaiti School, was carrying three adults and two children. The two people in the van were heading to Auckland.
A child aged about 10 and a grandmother in the Subaru were flown to Whanga¯rei Hospital by rescue helicopter, which landed on the sports field at Oruaiti School, with serious injuries. Two patients were transported to Whanga¯rei by ambulance and three to Kaitaia Hospital.
At least one person in the Subaru had to be cut out of the wreckage by Mangonui firefighters.
Constable Brett Walford, who said all seven had been wearing seatbelts, thanked members of the public who assisted, including a doctor and nurse who were aboard a passing bus, and family members of the injured from Taupo Bay, who also provided a tractor to clear wreckage from the northbound lane.