Suffering and superheroes: fire anniversary

The 10th anniversary of the fatal Icepak Tamahere fire has prompted another publication to look back a decade to April 5, 2008.

Raewyn Koppens describes the day she thought she’d died as an experience coloured with suffering and superheroes, reports the Waikato Times.

The light of a warm Saturday afternoon turned to darkness, and through a smokey haze, figures began to appear.

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Icepak fire 10 years on

As the 10th anniversary of the fatal Icepak Tamahere fire draws near news publications are looking back on the April 5, 2008 event.

In a feature story, the NZ Herald has checked on the surviving firefighters to find their memories of the day and where they are now.

Merv Neil says the blast felt like a big kick up the backside. As he struggled to his feet he was engulfed in an orange ball of flame. Shielding himself, he briefly looked up to see an enormous cloud of smoke in the sky.

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Coolstore blast survivor retires

Dennis Wells is a lucky man in more than one way.

The 67-year-old Hamilton fire officer has completed 40 years on the job and retired this week.

Two things make Wells lucky. Firstly, he’s always loved his job and secondly, he was one of the fire crew to survive the Icepak Coolstore explosion at Tamahere in April 2008.

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Five years on from Icepak fire

Five years ago the Icepak coolstores at Tamahere exploded, killing a fireman, injuring seven others and scarring a community. Philippa Stevenson, a Tamahere resident and journalist, reflects on the tragedy and asks whether it could happen again.

Tamahere Model Country School’s annual Pumpkin Night, held a week ago, was a delight.

As one Pumpkin Night follows another it feels like nothing changes.

But some things certainly need to change. Because Pumpkin Night five years ago ended before it began with a black mushroom cloud blasting and boiled into the sky, taking a life and changing the course of many others forever.

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Fireman an example of healing

David Beanland reckons his left pinkie hurt the most. That’s saying something given half his face was blown off. And his hands. He was one of eight firefighters who turned up to a supposedly routine call out to a coolstore in Tamahere on April 5, 2008.

The rest is history. A gas leak ignited when the firefighters entered the industrial building, sparking a massive explosion. Senior station officer Derek Lovell was killed.

The blaze turned Mr Beanland, in his own words, into a “piece of charred meat”. In reality, he’s lucky to be alive.

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Blast fines, compo found wanting

A judge today fined Mobile Refrigeration Specialists $56,000 and ordered the company to pay $175,000 to the victims of the April 5, 2008 Icepak Coolstores blast, the widow of fireman Derek Lovell and the seven other firemen injured in the tragedy.

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