Day marks firefighters’ sacrifice

Today, International Firefighters’ Day, some turn their thoughts to the late senior station officer Derek Lovell.

Manawatū Fire and Emergency area commander Mitchell Brown told Stuff that each year on the day his thoughts are dominated by Lovell, who died from injuries in a blast at Tamahere 12 years ago.

“It was pretty surreal,” said Brown,

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Tamahere legacy lives on

Today is a day Tamahere can reflect on other tough times – the 12th anniversary of the Icepak fire that claimed the life of firefighter Derek Lovell.

The lives of seven other firefighters were changed forever, too, in central Tamahere on a sunny April 5 much like today. Seriously injured were Merv Neil, Alvan Walker, Brian Halford, Cameron Grylls, David Beanland, Adrian Brown and Dennis Wells.

That day, also, brave and selfless locals went to the aid of the seriously injured firefighters.

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Principal reflects on fire

Today, like April 5, 2008, was a stunningly beautiful, warm, Waikato day with blue sky overhead and crunchy, autumn leaves underfoot.

Then the neighbourhood blew up, transformed in nanoseconds into a frightening, confusing nightmare of noise, chaos, roaring flames and a huge, black mushroom cloud funnelling high into the sky.

Ten years on, Tamahere School principal Waveney Parker has recalled the school community’s many courageous roles that afternoon, and in the weeks ahead.

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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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Icepak site sale disappoints

The sale this week of the former Icepak site has failed to sever links with its tragic past.

The derelict site in central Tamahere was bought by one of the architects of the tragedy that cost the life of a firefighter in 2008, former Icepak director Wayne Grattan.

Grattan, who was personally fined $30,000 for his part in the death of firefighter Derek Lovell and injury to seven others, paid $865,000 for the former coolstore site where the disaster played out eight years ago.

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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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Fire site now ‘ghetto spot’

Click, click, whirr, scrape, slide, chat and laughter – they’re some of the sounds commonly emanating from the abandoned Icepak Coolstores site on Devine Rd these days.

The concrete slabs left behind after the coolstores were removed by fire or the dismantlers were long ago colonised by enterprising skaterboarders.

The unofficial skateboard park or “ghetto spot” is a magnet for skaters from pre-teen learners to the very skilled and experienced, who occasionally showcase their thrills and spills in YouTube videos like this one.

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Coolstore dismantling underway

Work to dismantle the last coolstore on the disused Devine Rd Icepak site is into its second week.

The coolstore, the only survivor of the fatal 2008 fire, got a wash down in September and serious efforts to dismantle and remove it began last week.

It is to be relocated to Icepak’s Waharoa site clearing the way for the former commercial zone to return to residential status like the surrounding Tamahere properties.

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Landmark of tragedy to go

The remaining Icepak coolstore, the only survivor of the devastating 2008 fire, is being prepared for removal.

This week, contractors were on the Devine Rd site washing down the coolstore, which in recent months has been covered in graffiti, before an expected shift to Waharoa.

The coolstore has not been in use since June 2010 after a deal struck between Icepak and the Waikato District Council allowed it to continue to operate for a period following the fatal fire in return for Icepak relinquishing claims to commercial use of the site.

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