Praise for Kaimaumau firefighters and volunteers

Published on 24 December 2021

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Far North District Council is paying tribute to Fire and Emergency NZ, police, civil defence, community groups and the many volunteers who helped ensure no lives or homes were lost during the massive fire at Kaimaumau this week.

Far North Mayor, John Carter QSO, says the blaze that swept through more than 2000 hectares of wetland and threatened around 50 homes was the biggest to hit the region in more than a decade.

The fire, which started on Saturday afternoon, built rapidly due to strong winds and on Monday civil defence asked the Mayor to declare a local emergency to ensure all residents were moved to safety. Around 30 families spent three nights at Waiharara School or were hosted at a marae by Ngāi Takoto.  

“Fighting this blaze was a huge and exhausting undertaking. It was also very stressful for those evacuated, not knowing whether they would have homes to return to.

“We are all incredibly grateful for the work of the fire service, helicopter pilots and support crews, police, civil defence, DOC, the Kaimaumau Community Response Group, community volunteers and Ngāi Takoto.”

Mayor Carter says it is almost exactly a year ago that another blaze in the Far North forced the evacuation of holidaymakers and households at Ahipara. “The blaze at Kaimaumau was far larger and more dangerous. Once again, we have escaped without loss of life, property or injury. That is entirely due to the efforts of emergency services and volunteers who fought this blaze in very difficult conditions.”

He says that while the cause the of the blaze has not yet been confirmed, it underlines how easily fires can get out of control in high winds. FENZ, Northland Civil Defence, the Kaimaumau Community Response Group and supporting agencies are closely monitoring the area in case of flareups.

“While there is no longer an imminent threat to homes, there is a danger that fires could start again. I hope holiday makers will respect the wishes of the Kaimaumau community and not camp in the area this summer.”