Up to 80 firefighters were involved in fighting a suspicious fire that burnt through more than 60 hectares of forest near Nelson yesterday.
The fire began in a small section of Carter Holt Harvey forest between the Wairoa and Lee Valleys, 30km south of Nelson, about 10.30am.
Forest leader Phil Wright said winds gusting at up to 70kmh fanned the blaze, with flying embers jumping flames from “ridge to ridge”.
The cost of fighting the fire is expected to run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
The isolation of the site from any water made the battle difficult and water needed to be tanked to the site, with steep terrain making access from the ground at times impossible.
The region’s silviculture fire crews, the rural fire service and volunteer fire brigades from Richmond, Brightwater, Wakefield, Appleby, Lower Moutere attended the scene.
Three helicopters carrying monsoon buckets also helped battle the blaze but were fighting a losing battle yesterday afternoon as the fire spread out of control and firefighters were evacuated to the bottom of the Wairoa Valley.