Manukau Courier : December 2nd 2010
www.manukaucourier.co.nz Thursday, December 2, 2010 Message from the PM Prime Minister John Key The National Burn Centre at Middlemore Hospital, and regional burn units around the country, provide vital health- care for many New Zealanders. They make a real difference to the patients they treat and I d like to thank them for the good work that they do. I am delighted that the Mad Butcher and Suburban News- papers Community Trust is teaming up in support of the National Burn Centre. Operation Heal hopes to raise $200,000 for a special high-tech microscope, which would be used in recon- structive and plastic surgery for burns patients. The National-led govern- ment is spending more on health than ever before to make sure New Zealanders get essential services. High-tech medical equip- ment is very expensive, so it s great when local communities get involved in fundraising. This is your chance to make an extra contribution and help patients of the National Burn Centre. I encourage you to show your support by making a donation. I d like to personally thank everyone who is sup- porting Operation Heal for your generosity. -- Best wishes Prime Minister Working with burn patients P3 Hear John Key at www. manukau courier.co.nz Nightmare: A scrub fire sparked by fireworks came within metres of Charles Palmer's dream home, his worst nightmare after battling for years to get gorse and long grass cleared from the vacant sections. Photo: SIMON WATTS Scrub fire danger By KAREN MANGNALL CHARLES Palmer s long-running nightmare came to life when he saw smoke and flames on the vacant sec- tion next to his new dream home. The retired builder has battled the former Manukau City Council and the landowner since 2008 try- ing to get gorse and long grass cleared from the vacant subdivision lots surrounding his home in Goodwood Heights. Not only is it unsightly but it s also a fire hazard, he says. Two hooligans tossed fireworks into the vegetation last week, sparking a scrub fire that raced quickly downhill towards his home. I ve been into the council for two years to get the goddamn things cut. It was bound to happen some time -- and it happened. Only my fast action in phoning the fire brigade and the fact that I was home prevented my house from being destroyed, Mr Palmer says. It took Papatoetoe firefighters 10 minutes to control the blaze but senior station officer Lance Blyde says they were lucky there wasn t much wind and they were able to catch it early. Fortunately there had been a little bit of rain so it didn t burn as vigorously as it could have later on, he says. Gorse on the vacant land around Mr Palmer s house will present quite some risk of fire if it gets taller and drier as summer wears on, Mr Blyde says. If I was living there in these cir- cumstances I would be concerned as well. Gorse burns with a real ferocity whether it s dry or green and poses a greater fire hazard than long grass, he says. It s a real problem every summer in south Auckland -- the Bartells Drive vegetation fire was the second for Papatoetoe firefighters in as many days. The Fire Service can t make landowners clear vegetation that s a fire hazard -- that s up to the coun- cil, Mr Blyde says. I would advise the homeowner that it would be good to go into the council and let them know there s a risk there. If the council doubts his wisdom, they are welcome to con- tact us. Mr Palmer says the landowner has ignored his repeated requests to clear the vegetation apart from once spraying it with weedkiller. That only made matters worse by creating dried grass and increas- ing the fire hazard . In search of help he worked his way up the council hierarchy all the way to mayor Len Brown, getting confusing and ultimately unhelpful messages in return. Eventually a senior officer advised they d exhausted all avenues to get the landowner to clear the vegetation and that was that. Since then Mr Palmer s had to trim the gorse and grass around his boundary to create a fire break. He s now considering legal action to force the landowner to clear the vegetation and reimburse him for the trimming. Subdivision owner Sathnesh Kumar didn t know about the fire when contacted by the Manukau Courier but promised his business partner would investigate immedi- ately. Mr Kumar admits there have been some issues over the vacant sections but says they ve worked with Mr Palmer to deal with them. There s a bulldozer coming in a month s time and it will all be cleared. The Auckland Council had not responded to requests for comment by press time.
November 30th 2010
December 3rd 2010