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Waikato Police appeal for information following Te Pahu fire

Waikato Police appeal for information following Te Pahu fires

While praising the actions of a local resident who raised the alarm, Te Awamutu Police are hoping members of the public may have seen something suspicious linked to a series of suspicious rural fires west of Hamilton early this morning.

Te Awamutu Sub-Area Manager, Senior Sergeant Dave Simes, said emergency services were called to a property on Old Mountain Rd, near Te Pahu, about 3.30am.

"A local man woke around this time and noticed the light from a fire several kilometres up the road.

"Driving to investigate the man confirmed the light was from a fire and called 111."

Mr Simes said arriving fire-fighters noticed five separate fires at various intervals along the left side of Old Mountain Rd, all within six kilometres of the intersection with Te Pahu Rd.

"The first fire was about 2.75kms from Te Pahu Rd and engulfed about 500metres of scrub along the roadside and destroyed 200metres of fencing belonging to one farm property. The second blaze was 2kms further along the road and burnt about 42m of long grass on the roadside.

"About 540m further on was a third fire that ran from the side of the road up a steep embankment. It had burnt under the greener foliage and reached the drier scrub further up. Fire-fighters had to climb the steep embankment to reach the effected areas and spent several hours extinguishing the various hotspots and cutting down several trees to prevent further outbreaks."

Mr Simes said a smaller fourth fire was lit a short distance away and was located between the third and fifth fires, the last blaze being the largest fire about 60m away from the third. This fifth fire also ran up a large embankment creating further challenges for those fighting the fires.

"This morning's incident is particularly concerning for Police, the Fire Service and Rural Fire authorities because with the hot dry weather we're experiencing right now each fire has the potential to cause not only a great deal of damage to the bush and buildings but threaten people's lives as well."

Mr Simes asked anyone with information on the fires to contact Te Awamutu Police on 07 872 0100.

Alternatively, information can be left anonymously with Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

ENDS

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