Onemana Rural Fire Chief Spends Christmas Day Fighting the Fire on Matakana Island
Written by John Grant on December 27, 2023
Popular local Onemana Rural Fire Chief – Jo Adams spent Christmas day a little differently to most other people, he along with a couple of firefighters from Whiritoa, were fighting the fire on Matakana Island. He went to the Island in the ‘beast’, his well equipped Unimog on Christmas eve. At that time the fire was still out of control and worked for 24 hours returning late Christmas night. He may head back to the island to help finish the job, what he described as a gnarly fire, saying “it’s in the roots of plants and peat areas on the island. It needs special treatment with drilling down and injecting water to put the fire out”.
While wanting to help out Jo has one eye on local conditions that are increasingly concerning the experienced fire fighter.
He’s very worried with a combination of factors that include local fire conditions where he says things are starting to dry out and combine this with people lighting fireworks, that have been seen at Opoutere last night and Whitianga on Christmas Eve, in what he calls as a recipe for a major issue with local drying timber needles and an abundance of other fuels.
Also concerning Jo are those irresponsible people who ignore the total fire and fireworks ban in place and will letting off fireworks or even having bonfires that could have serious consequences. He keeps an eye out for smoke every day and is ready to respond if needed.
The wish to help finish the job on Matakana and local Coromandel fire conditions creates some conflict for Jo as he wants to help out on Matakana Island but feels the need to be on hand should he be required at home.
He says “we have a plan” and is ready to tackle whatever happens but asks people to be responsible. He appeals to everybody to play their part and not light fires and not to use fireworks while the Coromandel is subject to a closed fire season and fireworks bans are in place.