Dozens

Wildfires raze dozens of homes in New Zealand

Wildfires have destroyed up to 50 homes in New Zealand, authorities announced Monday, saying it was a miracle no one was hurt as “a wall of orange” razed most of a remote South Island village.

The blaze began in a mountain forest early Sunday morning and, fanned by strong winds, swept through the village of Lake Ohau, forcing residents to flee for their lives.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) said the unpredictable winds made fighting the fire “challenging” and by Monday afternoon it had razed 4,600 hectares (18 square miles) of land.

Waitaki District mayor Gary Kircher said the tiny Lake Ohau community had been devastated.

“Of the 60 or 70 houses, we believe that the majority have gone,” he told Radio New Zealand.

“The reality is that it’s a minor miracle no one has been harmed. If it had been another 15-20 minutes it would have been a very different story.”

Kircher described how residents awoke to find an inferno bearing down on them.

“I talked to a gentleman who got up to his dog (barking) in the early hours, opened his door and there was this wall of orange,” he said.

“He was the one that set off the town fire alarm and helped to wake people… there’s certainly some scary tales about how close it came to being an absolute disaster with fatalities.”

Wildfires are relatively common on the South Island at this time of the year but the scale and intensity of the Ohau fire have been unusual.

By Monday afternoon the fire front had moved far enough from the village to allow evacuated residents a brief trip back to assess the damage.

Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare, who accompanied them, described seeing burned out cars and gutted homes.

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Dozens of Lake Ohau homes left in ashes by overnight fire | 1 NEWS

Lake Ohau Village has been largely turned to ash after a raging forest fire ripped through the area overnight. 

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Dozens of homes appear to have been burned in the fire near Lake Ohau.
Source: Gary Kircher


About 30 houses and as many cars are believed to have been destroyed in the on-going blaze after it blitzed through the Mackenzie Country village last night.

Just how the raging fire began is not yet known according to Civil Defence Minister Peni Henare.

Minister Henare says the situation is a matter of “wait and see” as to what extent the damage caused will be but there is no indication as to what may have triggered the fire.  

Several homes have been turned to ash after being engulfed in flames overnight.
Source: Supplied


“As of now, there is still no understanding of how the fire started at the moment. Pretty sure FENZ will be working to contain it in the first instance before looking at how it started

“Obviously at the moment, of course the focus is on saving people’s lives and saving people’s properties.” 

Two other fires have also erupted in the South Island this morning, fuelled by high winds which have fanned the flames and made them difficult to contain. 

Fire and Emergency says the Ohau fire is burning through pine forest and grass in the Mackenzie Basin, with 16 fire crews on the ground and five helicopters fighting it.

There is a mixture of shock and confusion among the more than 90 people who were evacuated from Ohau Village in the early hours of this morning. 

As a popular spot during the school holidays, many families were forced to flee their homes now needing to seek refuge inside the Twizel Events Centre.

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New Jersey Veterans Homes Likely Failed to Acknowledge Covid-19 as Cause in Dozens of Deaths, Officials Say

A state-run nursing home for veterans in New Jersey failed to attribute nearly 40% of its likely Covid-19 deaths to the virus, according to the state’s own Department of Health.

The Menlo Park Veterans Memorial Home, in Edison, N.J., attributed 62 deaths to the new coronavirus on the website of the state’s veterans’ affairs agency. But a Department of Health spokeswoman, Nancy Kearney, said late Wednesday that an additional 39 people probably died from the virus at the facility during a wave of infections there.

Another state-run veterans home, in Paramus, N.J., also likely had more Covid-19 deaths than the total it attributed to the virus, Ms. Kearney said. The likely undercount at the two facilities, among the deadliest in the state for the virus, was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The findings show how publicly reported nursing home mortality figures can fail to reflect the true toll the pandemic has taken on the facilities, which are home to some of the most virus-vulnerable people in the country.

A spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Kryn Westhoven, in a statement released Wednesday, said his agency “mourns each and every veteran that passes away in our Memorial homes…. Much like other long-term care facilities across the state and country, Covid-19 created unprecedented circumstances and demands within our veterans memorial homes. During this time, all deaths were reported to the Department of Health.”

The New Jersey Veterans Home at Paramus, another state-run home for former members of the U.S. military, originally reported 81 Covid-19 deaths.



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The two state-run nursing homes have faced a barrage of criticism from families of deceased residents. The Paramus facility, which initially reported more deaths, has in particular come under fire.

In the early days

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