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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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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Neil decorated for bravery

Firefighter Merv Neil yesterday received a New Zealand Bravery Decoration from the Governor General for his actions during the explosion at Icepak Coolstores in 2008.

Following the explosion on April 5 three years ago, Neil, though burned over 73% of his body, was aware of developing danger for his Fire Service colleagues and Tamahere rescuers alike but quietly and professionally took charge of the situation and led people away from the danger area.

For his actions at Tamahere, Neil was yesterday awarded a New Zealand Bravery Decoration at Government House.

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Bravery award for fireman Neil

Firefighter Merv Neil, severely injured in the fiery explosion at the Tamahere Icepak Coolstore, in 2008, is one of 31 people honoured with a New Zealand Bravery Award today.

His sight blurred by a 2000 km/h blast wave, his hair burned off and clumps of his smouldering skin hanging from his fingers, firefighter Merv Neil was a burned and bloodied mess.

But despite the burns to 71 per cent of his body, he carried on, thinking his mates were in a worse state.

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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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