Valley fire could blaze for days

  Valley fire could blaze for days

30 November 2007

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New Zealand — Fire crews which spent last night battling a blaze in Pukaka Valley near Rarangi could be there for days to come, says a fire official.

The fire has so far burned through 50 hectares of felled forestry residue in the hills between Rarangi and Koromiko.

It was one of four fires which flared up around the region within the space of a few hours yesterday.

Marlborough principal rural fire officer Ross Hamilton said the cause of the Pukaka Valley fire was still unknown. The fire started at 12.45pm and could be seen clearly from Blenheim.

“I wouldn’t say they’re on top of it yet, it’s still burning. But looks more spectacular then it is, it hasn’t moved much, as long as they can keep it in that area.”

Mr Hamilton said fire fighters had managed to keep most of the flames out of standing pine forest.

Three helicopters from Blenheim, Nelson and Wellington doused the fire with monsoon buckets of water until dark and were back today. Although crews were scaled down overnight, Mr Hamilton said 30 fire fighters from Marlborough North and Marlborough South Rural Fire Forces were back on the job today.

He said fire fighters would be up the valley fighting the fire and putting out hot spots for “a few days yet”.

“It’s heavy bloody material, you can’t turn it over.”

He said today’s cooler weather would “certainly” help.

At Rarangi, a Neal Rd resident said the smoke was being blown towards Picton. Although she looked straight up at the fire from her balcony, she said she and other residents were not concerned for their safety as the fire was quite far away.

Meanwhile, a series of three small vegetation fires kept the Blenheim Volunteer Fire Brigade running from one to the other yesterday afternoon and evening.

The first was a grass fire near the Burleigh Bridge about 3.30pm.

At 5.40pm a small scrub fire started at Gouland Rd, Spring Creek, which Blenheim Volunteer Fire Brigade station officer Paul Fuller said was getting near to some bigger trees.

Finally, a grass fire near a fence was quickly put out by the brigade at 9pm.

Mr Fuller said the cause of all three fires was being investigated.

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