The New Zealand Herald

Blaze turns into storm of embers

- Belinda Feek

A fire at a recycling plant near Thames turned into an “ember storm” as severe winds sent sparks flying and ignited fires across the complex in one of the biggest blazes in the area in years.

The fire erupted about 9.20pm on Tuesday at Smart Environmen­tal’s premises in Matatoki, engulfing piles of timber, wood chips, sawdust and plastics. Fire crews came from as far as Rotorua, Hamilton and Tauranga.

Thames fire chief Greg Rendall said the wind was so strong embers ignited a hay barn 500m away. “It was basically an ember storm.” While putting out the repeated spot fires, firefighte­rs concentrat­ed on protecting exposed buildings.

“There was probably only two buildings destroyed in it and the rest are still intact. Smart Environmen­tal employ a lot of people in our town . . . [the fire] impacts on our community in quite a big way.”

The fire was last night under control but crews stayed overnight dampening down hot spots.

 ?? Picture / Rick Watson ?? Sparks whipped up by high winds ignited fires across the Smart Environmen­tal complex.
Picture / Rick Watson Sparks whipped up by high winds ignited fires across the Smart Environmen­tal complex.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand