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Heating malfunction cause of feed plant blaze

Published on 20 May, 2011, Last updated at 12:50 GMT

S.Waikato, NZ -- A malfunctioning heating unit is being investigated as a possible cause of a fire that destroyed part of a large animal food production plant near Putaruru yesterday.

Smoke could be seen billowing from Lucerne Products for miles after the blaze erupted about 9.20am on Harris Rd.

The fire razed a storage barn containing stock feed while firefighters battled successfully to save what was left of the processing plant.

South Waikato fire investigator Stu Craddock said he was unable to access the property for a detailed examination yesterday as firefighters were still dampening it down into the night.

He was heading to the scene this morning.

Putaruru police Sergeant Jason Shailer said it appeared as though a "heating-type unit", which is used in the processing system, malfunctioned.

The owner was inside the building at the time but was able to escape unscathed.

The area that caught fire held all the lucerne, or hay bales, and was semi-joined to a processing plant which in turn was attached to a main office.

Mr Shailer praised the efforts of firefighters who managed to bring the fire under control relatively quickly and saved quite a few areas, despite at times running out of water.

Six appliances and one tanker were used to tackle the fire.

Mr Shailer said the business had been owned by the same family for about 40 years and they lived next door.


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