When you are a timber miller you know how important it is to know your process is safe.
So when the fire started at the New Zealand timber processing plant of Woodcutter in the country’s north-west on Sunday, you knew it was time to get your workers out of their cars and onto the road.
The only way to protect them from the flames was to leave them behind.
For hundreds of thousands of workers at the wood processing plant in Nzimbe, that meant driving to the nearby township of Waimate, some 400 kilometres away.
But that is exactly what the local community had to do to prevent the fire spreading further and further into their community.
Woodcutters work at a log processing plant at Woodcuter in the Northland in New Zealand.
(Supplied: Woodcut) The fire is now contained, and the fire has been put out.
But the forest fire at the Waimatapuweta site, which is also a timber processing site, is still burning and is expected to grow further into the weekend.
For a town of around 6,000 people, the fire is a reminder of the devastating fire that devastated the town of Waipuwi on the north coast of New Zealand last year.
“We can’t let it spread,” Waimapuwi mayor David White told Al Jazeera.
“There’s no point trying to hide anything.”
White said Waimapehua, which has around 30,000 residents, was one of a number of towns affected by the fire.
“Our only concern is that we do have people in the town who are very lucky,” he said.
We can’t even begin to imagine what would have happened if that had happened to us.”‘”
It’s like an earthquake.
We can’t even begin to imagine what would have happened if that had happened to us.”‘
We have a duty to our community’ Woodcuters are among the workers who have to drive to Waimata to work on the site of the Woodcutor incident.
“The community is still very scared.
They don’t know where they are, they don’t have much information.
So we have a responsibility to our communities,” White said.
The fires started at about 11:00pm on Sunday.
But after the initial fire broke out, the townspeople were unable to get home until around 1:00am on Monday morning.
“What happened is a very, very tragic event,” White explained.
“Some of the fire fighters went home.
A town of 6,500 people, Waimote is one of three towns on the North Island that have suffered severe fires this year. “
At first we thought it was just a timber fire, and that it was contained.”
A town of 6,500 people, Waimote is one of three towns on the North Island that have suffered severe fires this year.
(Auckland Transport NZ) But the fire spread from the log processing to the timber processing, causing extensive damage to the town.
“This is the biggest fire in New New Zealand history,” said Wairangi Council Member Tom Kaur.
“I have never seen anything like it.
We have a great fire safety program here, and we’ve never had anything like this before.”
A fire engine from Auckland Transport NZ arrived on the scene of the initial blaze to assess the extent of damage.
“Firefighters, fire fighters, fire fighting firefighters,” Kaur said.
A firefighting team from Auckland Fire Brigade are pictured on a road in Waimato on Sunday morning.
(Photo by: Mark Blinch/AAP) Kaur has lived in Wairangei for more than 30 years and said it was hard to get back to her home when the initial flames were still raging.
“To get back home I had to go in and do the laundry.
That was really hard,” she said.
Kaur is one the councillors who have been involved in the fire response to the fires in the past.
“When you go to the fire station and say ‘this is my home’, it’s like ‘you’re not welcome here’.” Wairanga Council member David White said he would not want his community to be put in harm’s way.
“But we have to be very careful.
We need to do our best to make sure there’s no damage,” White told ABC New Zealand on Monday.
“Wairangeu is not a community that has much experience dealing with fire.”
He said the council had been able to work with Wairangeri to secure additional fire protection for nearby houses.
“As far as I’m concerned, we’ve been there,” he added.
Firefighters from Auckland Transit NZ arrive at the scene on the road in Woodcut, New Zealand, where the initial timber processing fire broke.
(Mark Blinch) The Woodcutin incident also comes as New Zealand’s biggest ever fire risk assessment of the nation’s forestry sector finds that the country faces a major risk to forestry, logging and other industries.
The assessment found