New Zealand — Two fires blazed onMarlborough’s tinder dry landscape yesterday, one probably caused by a tractorand the other by workers on a railway track.
Six firefighting crews were called out to the Waihopai Valley early yesterdayafternoon after a grass fire broke out near the Waihopai Spy Base.
Marlborough South principal rural fire officer Ross Hamilton said the fire,which seemed to have been started from a collapsed bearing in a tractor droppinghot metal on the ground, burnt around three hectares.
He said the crews from the Blenheim and Waihopai Rural Fire Force plus the Renwick Fire Service spent a lot of time mopping up after the fire. “It’s been so dry all the cow dung was burning.” They had to go around and turn each cow pat over with a shovel, he said.
During that mop up, another fire was started just past Cloudy Bay Business Park, between the railway line and the very dry land behind it.
“If it had got up on that hill we might have still been chasing it,” said Mr Hamilton.
That fire was allegedly caused by contractors working on the railway lines, joining the rail, he said. “It’s just sheer neglect.”
He said the workers were using grinding equipment and heating the steel up to “tremendous heat” to melt it.
Great Balls of Fire: This grass fire near the Waihopai Valley’s spy station was probably started by a tractor. (Photo: WARWICK BLACKLER)
“There’s no need for that to happen. They should have taken precautions,”he said.
Fortunately some OnTrack employees working further up the line had knapsacksand were able to contain the fire until firefighters arrived, he said.
Mr Hamilton said Marlborough was very dry and people needed to be “verycareful”. The only thing “saving us” from more out of controlfires was the absence of wind and the cooler days, he said.
The Marlborough District Council is asking people not to walk in the WitherHills during the hot daylight hours.
Mr Hamilton said that was important both for the safety of the walkers, whocould get caught in a fire, and the firefighters that would be sent in to savethem.