Fire at Heads suspicious says fire chief
The suspicious scrub fire – allegedly caused by a firework – which ripped across Mangawhai Heads clifftops in the early hours of September 21 is still under police investigation.
At around 3am emergency services were called to the surf beach where a large fire, approximately half an acre, was burning rapidly through vegetation and heading dangerously close to a nearby house.
Local fire fighters were joined by helicopters and volunteers from Kaiwaka, Waipu and Paparoa and as far away as Maungakaramea and Puhoi to fight the flames, until ‘a paid Whangarei forestry crew came down to mop up the fire’ Mangawhai chief fire officer Rob Leslie says.
“We evacuated one house on the clifftop as a precaution in case the fire spread too close… the suspected cause is non-accidental.”
Police have asked the community for help in identifying three people who were captured on CCTV parked in the Heads beach parking lot at 11.45pm and 1.23am on the night of the fire, but have stressed they just want to talk to the individuals in case they have information which can assist the investigation.
With Guy Fawkes Day in the next month, there is a number of preventative actions people can use to keep their homes safe Leslie says.
“The fire safety message for home owners is to have at least 20 metres of defendable space from their house, clearing flammable vegetation, such as manuka, back from the structure,” he says. “There are a number of subdivisions near the surf beach where we would struggle to defend the houses due to the vegetation being closer than 20 metres. This could also have implications on being covered by insurance in the case of a wildfire.”
Leslie also would like to thank the surf club for providing their facilities for firefighters to have coffee and meals on the night and early morning of the fire.
Have information? Contact Detective Brad Marshall on 021 191 4246 or send a private message on Facebook or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
The large fire, around half an acre, was burning rapidly through vegetation and heading dangerously close to a nearby house. PHOTO/FACEBOOK
Police have asked for help identifying three people captured on CCTV in the Heads beach parking lot at 11.45pm and 1.23am on the night of the fire. PHOTO/SUPPLIED