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Burning Down the House

The house was basically an old wooden house which was falling apart and would cost more to fix then to rebuild.  It was not even good wood…just pine.  It was suggested that the house be donated to the fire service for a training practise.  It turns out the house was perfect for the training requirements and the council granted the permit for it to happen and the rains came preventing a total fire ban being put in place!

In the days leading up to the big fire, sections of the roof were lifted, old carpets were placed on the wooden floors and old furniture placed in the rooms to make the fire more realistic.

photo of old furniture and carpet in bedroom

On Sunday 16th January at 7am in the morning 8 fire appliances and 25 fireman and women (the crew) descended on Rongomai Ridge to burn the house to the ground.

Fire Appliances in DrivewayAppliances at Front Gate

The crew came from Wakefield, Appleby, Upper Moutere, Tasman and Mapua fire brigades.  Some had never been into a fire before so it was awesome training for them.


Photo of fire officers at briefing

They built temporary water dams and pumped the water from the dam into the temporary dams and then the fire trucks pumped the water from the dams via the trucks and into the fire hoses.



Fireman filling the temporary dam


They divided the crew into 4 teams and each team rotated around each of the duties that they have to perform at a fire.  Individual rooms were set on fire, glass windows would explode and flames were seen leaping out of the windows as the crews would go and put the fire out.  Friends and neighbours turned out to watch the event …with comments that this is better than watching TV!!  Another commented that it is not often that you could watch a house fire without having to worry about someone being inside and the loss of home and all their possessions.

At one point one of the crew took Mel’s camera into the fire and took some photos.

Fireman watching the kitchen alight

Finally the whole house was set a light and the fire hoses just ensured that the surrounding area did not catch fire as the house burned to the ground.  It was amazing how quickly the fire took hold of the house and within 30 minutes there was just a big pile of burnt offerings.

 Fireman ready to enter the burning houseHouse well alight and fireman just make sure the surrounding area does not burn down

We were in awe of how the fire brigades managed the fire and how well the teams worked together even though they were from different brigades.   We are so pleased that the house was able to serve the community and the fire service and go out this way rather than being demolished by machinery.  Over the next week the local paper had an article about the house burning and it was the topic of conversation everywhere we went.

There are lots of cool photos in the photo gallery which really must check out as the photos above just don't do the event justice.