18 Jan 2012

Gutted Hastings company warned of fire concerns

7:10 pm on 18 January 2012

The Fire Service says it advised a Hastings packaging company several months ago of concerns over the way it stored fruit packaging material.

More than 80 firefighters from throughout Hawke's Bay fought a blaze that all but destroyed the Hawk Packaging factory which made egg cartons and moulded apple trays.


Fire crews were called out to the Tomoana Road site about 8pm on Tuesday. Sixteen people were evacuated from their homes at the height of the blaze and were allowed to return home on Wednesday morning.

It is the second time in recent months that there has been a fire at Hawk Packaging.

An overnight blaze in October last year destroyed bales of recycled paper in a warehouse, but had only limited impact on the company's production.

The Fire Service's assistant area manager says it wrote to Hawk Packaging outlining its safety concerns following that blaze.

Nigel Hall says he can't go into great detail about the letter, but the company was told to get its housekeeping in order and shift pallets of apple trays away from buildings.

The Fire Service says both blazes are not suspicious. It is hoping to hoping to know in the next couple of days what caused the latest fire.

Fire seen from Napier

Fire Service area commander Chris Nicoll said that flames could be seen from Napier and the fire was most difficult to contain in an exterior storage area for pallets, fruit bins and fruit trays.

Four nearby commercial premises, including that of pipfruit exporter Mr Apple, were exposed to the fire but were saved.

Crews were damping down burning pallets and other packaging materials outside the building on Wednesday morning and expected to be to be at the site for another 24 hours.

Toni Whateley, who lives on Tomoana Road, said the spectacular fire drew a large crowd.

Another woman, who lives in a new subdivision opposite Hawk Packaging, said the heat was extreme and firefighters hosed down the brickwork of houses.