Okaiawa fire will have ‘huge’ impact on business, workers – mayor

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A fire in a meat-processing plant in the southern Taranaki town of Okaiawa is going to have a big impact on the district.

Fire fighter checking the pressures of the appliance at 242 Adelaide Road, Newtown.

File photo. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The fire began about 11am yesterday morning, spewing thick, black smoke into the air, which could be seen for kilometres.

It was put out around three hours later by more than 40 fire crews.

South Taranaki District mayor Phil Nixon said the response from Fire and Emergency New Zealand was incredible.

“The emergency services have done a fantastic job, from what I’ve seen of it. To respond, they had large numbers of appliances and fire staff there and so I think they’ve done a fantastic job [of] being able to bring the fire under control and extinguish it in a short time,” he said.

“No one has been injured and that is by far the most important thing – all people are safe.”

South Taranaki mayor Phil Nixon says the economic activity the windfarm is generating is great news for the district.

South Taranaki District mayor Phil Nixon. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Nixon said it was especially impressive given the highly flammable nature of animal fat in the plant.

However, he said despite these efforts, the building had been extensively damaged and would leave a big hole in the district.

“My heart is certainly with the owners of the business and those whose employment is going to be affected at this time. I mean Christmas or whenever it is is not a good time to go through anything like this. It’s a huge impact on a very important business in our district,” Nixon said.

He said the blaze would impact hundreds of workers.

“Until they sort out where they’re going and what they’re doing, in terms of getting up and running again, it certainly will have an impact.”

He said the meat-processing plant was an important service to the dairy and poultry industry in the region.

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