Army exercises spark fires near desert road

Army exercises spark fires near desert road

27 November 2007

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New Zealand — Firefighters are currently fighting two grass fires east of the Desert Road both of which were initially started by army training exercises.

Army spokesman Dave Courtney said the first fire about 15km from Waiouru and the Desert Road was started yesterday during a live firing exercise in Army training grounds.

It had been put out, but flared again today and firefighters were working to dampen it down, he told NZPA.

Meanwhile today a second fire had also been started by an army exercise a few kilometres from the first, a bit closer to the army camp.

It was a small, slow burning, grass fire, which had created a lot of smoke, Mr Courtney said.

It was under control and firefighters with the aid of helicopters were working to put it out.

A civilian helicopter pilot who had fought yesterday’s fire was taken to hospital with moderate injuries after a “heavy” landing, he said.

Mr Courtney said fires in this area were not uncommon.

Currently the conditions in the area were about two months ahead of normal in terms of dryness, after a hot and windy October.

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