Bushfires rage on public land

Bushfires rageon public land

2 February 2008

published by www.stuff.co.nz

New Zealand — The Department of Conservation fire fighting crews and twohelicopters have been fighting five aggressive fires on land at Aotuhia, 10kmsouth-east of Whangamomona.

Les Stanley of DOC says the fires are now under control, but crews will be onthe land for at least another two days.

The fires were reported on Wednesday evening by Air New Zealand pilots andfire crews arrived at the scene the next morning.

“The fires are under control but there is still a lot of mopping up todo,” Mr Stanley said.

Trees are falling down and the fires are still a danger to the conservationland.

He says the fires are being fuelled by native bush.

“We have crews with chainsaws cutting up the big spurs, but it’s adifficult job.

“There is water but we have to pump it from dam to dam then back on tothe fire,” Mr Stanley said.

Both helicopters have monsoon buckets and using water from the WanganuiRiver, they suppressed the fires so the ground crew of 10 could enter theburning bush.

The crews concentrated on the main blaze, which was an area of 37 hectares.

The total fire area covered 70 hectares.

Mr Stanley says fire crews are working 13-hour stretches and DOC has broughtin a fire investigator to determine the cause.

“No one has been hurt and there is no property nearby. It’s allenvironment,” Mr Stanley says.

It is believed to be caused by an unpermitted burn-off that got out ofcontrol.

Permits are required for any fires within 1km of public conservation land.Given current conditions, fire permits are not being issued and existing permitshave been cancelled.

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