1492332564136 - ‘Flare off’ sends fireball into Taranaki skies, prompts fears of oil and gas installation fire

‘Flare off’ sends fireball into Taranaki skies, prompts fears of oil and gas installation fire

Fears a major Taranaki oil and gas installation is ablaze are unfounded.

A massive glow in coastal Taranaki skies that prompted fire crews from three Taranaki brigades to be sent out was in fact a flare off at the Oaonui Production Station, it is understood.

Many people have reported an explosion or lightning strike at the station, which processes gas from the Maui field, and some were worried the station was ablaze.

The flare off was necessary due to rain and an electrical storm which occurred around the same time.

David Meikle of the fire communications centre in Wellington said numerous calls were received about 6.45pm.

He said numerous calls were received from worried people, and brigades from Opunake, Rahotu and Kaponga were dispatched to investigate, but were quickly stood down.

“There was no fire, they were undergoing some planned process, there was no emergency at all.

“We are pleased that people did call us when they noticed it and were concerned.”

Dinnie Moeahu, Opunake, said his sister-in-law Phillipa Hamilton-Baylis, was evacuated from her home directly opposite the production station for a short time, but had been able to return soon afterwards.

“She was cooking dinner and there was a lightning strike and everyone’s power flickered. As she was driving out, there were other people driving in to see it.”

He said his oldest son, Christian, saw the flames.

“I went for a ride to investigate. I saw a massive flame, I’ve lived in Opunake for 14 years and this is the first time I have seen the sky lit up like this. The kids were pretty shook up, it’s taken us a while to calm them down.”

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