Large fire at Te Aroha meat works under control

Saturday 4 December 2010, 9:05AM
By New Zealand Police


Fire fighters from across the Bay of Plenty and Waikato were called to help bring a large fire under control that has caused significant damage to a meat processing plant outside Te Aroha overnight.

Fire Service Eastern Waikato Area Manager, Gary Talbot, said about 19 fire appliances and several tankers from across the region were called in to tackle the blaze at the plant on Stanley Rd South that began about 11.30pm.

Police and ambulance staff were also on hand assisting the 66 firefighters as they fought to bring the fire under control.

"We're keeping an open mind on the cause of the fire which will be subject to an investigation but at this stage it doesn't appear to be suspicious.

"The building's not been safe to enter so far and we're still dampening down, it may be 4-5 hours before fire investigators and Police can enter, the damage is extensive," he said.

Mr Talbot said the emergency services were grateful for the assistance of dairy company Fonterra who provided a number of milk tankers to assist with ferrying in water which assisted with bringing the fire under control.

Acting Matamata-Piako Sub-Area Manager, Detective Sergeant Rod Carpinter, said the main concern for Police during the night was the risk posed by ammonia stored in refrigeration units at the plant.

"Consulting with Gary, the incident controller, we had to look at the possibility of evacuating everyone in a 2km radius and had advised Hamilton Police of this in case reinforcements needed to be brought in.

"Fortunately the firefighters were able to bring the blaze under control and we didn't have to resort to that, our role now will be in assisting the Fire Safety Officers when they begin their investigation into the cause of the fire."

Emergency services were expected to be at the scene for the remainder of the day.