New Zealand – About 60 tourists in New Zealand’s far north had to be evacuated to safety on Friday as a bush fire raged in 200 hectares of bush near Cape Reinga, news reports said.
The blaze in Te Paki coastal park, in which 50 firefighters and four helicopters with monsoon buckets battled 12 metre high flames, was believed to have been started when a tourist lost control of a car which burst into flames as it hit trees, the Newstalk ZB radio station reported.
The three people in the car were reported to have escaped injury.
A fire officer told Radio New Zealand the tourists were isolated by the fire which cut the main highway but one engine and a police vehicle managed to get through and shepherd them to safety after the blaze was brought under control on the roadsides.
Nobody was reported to be hurt.
Officials warned that the fire risk in much of the northern and eastern North Island was extreme after high temperatures and strong northwest winds dried out the bush and left the countryside tinder dry. – Sapa-dpa