Firefighters winning battle against 5 day bushfire

Firefighters winning battle against 5 day bushfire

21 March 2008

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New Zealand — Fire crews battling a five-day-old bushfire in Queenstown’s Hector Mountains are hopeful they will have it extinguished by the end of the day.

Queenstown Lakes District Council Principal Rural Fire Service Officer Gordon Bailey told NZPA that the fire was blazing on two fronts in the Devil’s Staircase area last night but one of those had been put out and the other was now much smaller.

Five helicopters and 10 ground crew are at the scene. The helicopters have undertaken surveillance work and will today spread a retardant spray on a nearby beech forest in the line of fire.

“We don’t want that going up,” Mr Bailey said.

The blaze, which has burned through 740ha of alpine vegetation, was one of many sparked by hot and dry conditions throughout the South Island during the past few days, with strong winds making it difficult to fight.

Mr Bailey reported better conditions today, with a light northerly and 18degC.

A southerly change is expected this evening which may bring welcome rain.

Once the fire is out, firefighters would move in with thermal imaging equipment to detect and eliminate any remaining hotspots, he said.

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