We’ve had an action-packed weekend with a very worrisome afternoon yesterday. We heard the fire siren go and didn’t take much notice. Out here it’s a voluntary brigade, and often gets called out for car accidents or other situations where saving someone’s life is the priority. The fire engine has all the resuscitation equipment aboard. But then the fire engine came up Te Muna Road, and we realised the smoke we’d seen rising over the road in Farmer John’s paddocks was more than someone burning backyard rubbish. His farm was on fire! How quickly it spread. The land is just so tinder dry and the flames whipped through the grass, up the cypress plantations, through fences, and up to the front door of Matt and Ana, a young couple living down near the river. Then just as the firefighters thought they had it contained, the fire changed direction and swept towards our vineyard. It created its own easterly wind, which set off our frost machine, which in turn sucked up about three nets off the vines which went soaring high into the sky. If it wasn’t so alarming, it would have been beautiful as the white nets danced and swirled up in the blue. For a moment we feared they’d get entangled in the blades of the frost machine but two nets ended up down in the valley, and another is still way up the top of the pine trees. Luckily for us, the road acted as a fire break, and though the flames came right up to the edge of the road, the guys managed to stop it from jumping across to our property. If the flames had reached the casurinas we would have had a tragedy. In the end, three engines fought the blaze for six hours, finally damping down the hot spots around 9.30 last night, although I spoke to Matt’s Mum this evening and she said he was still putting out fires this morning. What devastation for Farmer John – he has lost about 150 hectares of pasture. This is what a fire can do in just a few hours on a hot, windy summer day. Yesterday it was 41 degrees in our vineyard. It’s now scarily hot.