Wakatipu fire under control

Wakatipu fire under control

20 March 2008

published by http://tvnz.co.nz

New Zealand — Firefighters have managed to contain a major scrub fire near Queenstown which has been burning for five days.

Queenstown Lakes District Council spokeswoman Megan Miller says 11 helicopters are being used to dampen down major hotspots.

She says ground crews will be back on Friday morning after being stood down overnight.

Miller says many are volunteers and have been involved with the fire since Sunday.

The fire burned out of control on the shores of Lake Wakatipu.

The fire was first detected on Sunday and flared up again on Wednesday night. It has burnt a total area of about 1,000 hectares and threatening native beech forest in the area.

“It’s very dry Spaniard grass – tussocks. So hard to put out,” said Alfie Speight, helicopter pilot.

The wind has been dropping and the fire burning in the direction of the Hector Range.

Principal rural fire officer Gordon Bailey says the fire is likely to burn for the next few days.

A no fly zone covering a five kilometre radius was established over the fire.

Over 70 people and 11 helicopters have been battling the blaze. It’s estimated that over $200,000 has been spent fighting the fire.

A little rain was forecast for Friday night. However, firefighters are expecting the weekend to be a long one for them.

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