VIDEO: Fire blazes near Kerikeri vineyard!
We began to smell smoke around lunchtime while we were going about our daily work on the vineyard. It seemed strange for someone to be burning brush on such a windy day, but we didn’t think much of it at the time. In fact, it almost had that comforting camp fire smell. We had no idea that a transformer had exploded, igniting the dry scrub nearby. After a few hours, with the wind growing stronger and changing directions several times, it became a huge fire so out of control that helicopters were dumping water on the flames as it was too hot for firefighters to approach with hoses. Hoping that the flames wouldn’t jump past the airport runway and bordering roads, firefighters began defense tactics at nearby properties by dousing buildings and adjoining brush with water, and patrolling grounds looking for smaller fires that may have started from falling debris.
With our bags packed, and the car pointed out the driveway in ready position, we stood and waited to see what would happen next. The firefighters left, apparently satisfied that we would be ok… for the moment. We slipped past the road barriers later that night to see what was happening. We were greeted with what was both beautiful and horrifying at the same time. Trees and grounds twinkled with still glowing embers, while just beyond, helicopters circled overhead in the plume of smoke that glowed orange from the flames below. Firefighters fought the blaze for nearly 3 days, making sure that no stray fires sprung up on surrounding properties.
This is one kind of excitement that we can definitely do without on our travels, but we are thankful that everything worked out ok, and no one was injured to our knowledge. See the news story below for more information and watch the video above for our eyewitness accounts.