8 Jan 2010

Risk of fire at Gisborne sawmill foreseen

9:27 pm on 8 January 2010

A homeowner living alongside a Gisborne sawmill that was partially burnt in a fire on Thursday night says the blaze was almost inevitable.

Robert Blair was forced to leave his Awapuni Rd home when a large grass fire began to threaten the sawmill next door.

He says he has been complaining to the Gisborne District Council for almost a decade about the risk of fire at the sawmill site.

Mr Blair says he hopes the council will now take action to make sure the sawmill site is less cluttered.

Firefighters are continuing to keep a close eye on the site so that the fire, which at one point threatened businesses close to the central city, does not re-ignite.

A senior station officer, Peter Carroll, said on Friday afternoon that firefighters were still at the scene trying to cool hot spots in a sawdust pit, and that it might be another 24 hours before the fire was completely out.

One of the sawmill buildings was damaged, and some timber was lost in the blaze.

Mr Carroll said investigators were looking to see if the grass fire and another fire at a car wrecker's yard nearby were connected.

The second fire started soon after the grass fire was brought under control.