Topic: Mauao Fire (14 January 2016)

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At 12.30am on Thursday 14 January 2016 a fire started on Mauao that soon raged out of control, destroying 4,000sqm of vegetation. Story by Debbie McCauley. Photos by Lee Switzer.

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At 12.30am on Thursday 14 January 2016 a fire started on Mauao. Three people called for help and had to be rescued from the top of the mountain. Witnesses reported seeing a flare before the blaze started. What is certain is that the fire did not start from natural causes.

More than 40 firefighters, six fire engines and two helicopters brought the blaze under control. The helicopters used monsoon buckets to dump over 40,000 litres of water over the raging fire. Each helicopter can carry up to 600 litres of water, dumping their loads on Mauao every 60 to 90 seconds. The huge amount of water used and the loss of vegetation destabilised boulders and walking tracks were closed. Security guards were stationed at entrances to keep people off the mountain.

4,000sqm of vegetation on the northern side of Mauao was destroyed. This is the most at risk side of Mauao due to its steep terrain and wind exposure.

In 2006 a $300,000 water pump system was installed half way up Mauao to help with firefighting. The fire risk season for Mauao runs through December and January each year.

 

Mauao Fire 14 January 2016 (1)

Mauao is closed to the public (14 January 2016).

 

Mauao Fire 14 January 2016 (2)

Helicopters which helped fight the fire on Mauao (14 January 2016).

 

Mauao Fire 14 January 2016 (3)

A helicopter hovering whilst it's monsoon bucket is filled with water (14 January 2016).

 

Mauao Fire 14 January 2016 (4)

A helicopter and monsoon bucket dropping water on the smouldering fire on Mauao (14 January 2016).  

 

Mauao Fire 14 January 2016 (5)

A monsoon bucket drops water on hot spots on Mauao (14 January 2016).

  

Mauao Fire 17 January 2016 (6)

Damage to vegetation on Mauao (17 January 2016).


Mauao Fire 17 January 2016 (7)

Damage on Mauao Ridge (17 January 2016).

 

Major fires on Mauao:

  • 2016 (January 14): 4,000sqm of vegetation on the northern side of Mauao destroyed due to a deliberately lit fire.
  • 2003 (January 23):  A massive fire starts on Wednesday 22nd at 5.15pm just off the base track on Mauao's west side.Tauranga's two helicopters were in Paeroa fighting another scrub fire so firefighters had to wait for a helicopter to arrive from Auckland. The fire destroys around 16 hectares of vegetation. 
  • 1997 (December 13): On Saturday 13 December 1997 a massive fire started at 9pm, firefighters working through the night to try and put it out. The roads surrounding the area were closed. Three helicopters were used to put out the fire, one from Tauranga, one from Auckland and one from Rotorua. The fire flared up again at 1.30pm on Sunday. One third of the vegetation on Mauao was destroyed by the fire which mainly affected the northern face. The fire was arson; a group of young people had been observed drinking, smoking and letting off firecrackers on Mauao just prior to it being reported.
  • 1986 (December 27): A bushfire swept through the steep rocky slopes of Mauao on Saturday 27th December and reached the top of the mountain on the northern side. No machinery was available to carry water to the top of Mauao so helicopters with monsoon buckets full of seawater fought the fire which was on the north-eastern side. The fire flared up again on Sunday, and again on Monday. The blaze destroyed 20 hectares including a hectare of recently planted native trees. Boulders and logs fell from the charred slopes. People had been warned to keep away from the area, but little notice was taken and bystanders made a nuisance of themselves. At 11pm on Monday 29th a boulder came down the cliff, hit a bystander, and broke his leg.The fire was deemed arson and seemed to have been lit in several places.

This page was archived at Perma cc March 2017 https://perma.cc/t7a9-r3yb

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Mauao Fire (14 January 2016)


Year:2016