Blaze destroys 62ha of conservation reserve

Blaze destroys 62ha of conservation reserve

2May 2005


More than 80 firefighters battled over the weekend to contain another big blaze in a Department of Conservation reserve in the Far North.

The latest outbreak, in the 260ha Lake Waikaramu conservation reserve near the Rangaunu Harbour at Kaimaumau, 30km north of Kaitaia, began on adjacent private land late on Wednesday.

It spread into scrub and bush on the DoC estate, and burned through 62ha during three days.

The cause of the fire, which produced huge clouds of smoke, is not known.

A total of 81 DoC, rural fire party, volunteer brigade and forest protection firefighters were still fighting the fire yesterday after it went underground into peat soils.

Crews used pumps to draw seawater to hot spots.

Department spokeswoman Sylvia Jones said fire crews were inserting metal tube probes into the ground.

Water is then forced down the tube, percolating through holes in the side and dampening underground hot areas.

A major flare-up in scrub yesterday was contained without further damage to the reserve.

But an overnight watch was to be kept last night before relief fire crews arrive today.

Some firefighters have been at the scene since late last week.

The Lake Waikaramu reserve contains a range of native species of plant, animal and fish life.

They include native orchids, green geckos and the rare black mudfish.

The blaze is the second in a week in the area, and the fourth major outbreak on DoC land north of Kaitaia since late January.

Lack of rain has caused tinder dry conditions.

Early last week, a fire burned through about 100ha of DoC estate in the Puheke reserve northeast of Kaimaumau on the Karikari Peninsula.

More than 40 firefighters and two helicopters fought the blaze.

Three months earlier, 233ha of trees, bush, scrub and delicate flora was destroyed in a major fire in the Te Paki conservation reserve near Cape Reinga.

Three days before, a blaze across the internationally known Kaimaumau wetlands and its peat soils claimed a further 120ha containing protected wildlife and habitat.

A tourist’s car that crashed off the road to Cape Reinga and caught fire began the Te Paki blaze.

But Far North fire authorities are warning that any carelessly discarded cigarette butt or glass bottle (heated by sun) can start a roadside fire in dry scrub and manuka.

All open fires are banned in the Far North.

Some parts of the district are sweating out their driest conditions in 10 years.


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