ATV ‘invaluable’ to firefighters

ATV ‘invaluable’ to firefighters

8 January 2009

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New Zealand — An amphibious Argo ATV proved invaluable to Southland firefighters battling hotspots at the scene of a blaze that broke out more than a week ago.

HELPING HAND: Trevor Huggins (front left) of the Department of Conservation talking to Southland deputy principal rural fire officer Elton Smith at the. The fire crews have been using an eight-wheel-drive Argo ATVs to help carry personnel and equipment across soft and rough terrain. Photo: Jill McKeeThe eight-wheel-drive Argo ATV was deployed yesterday to ferry equipment to five crews still working at the scene of a fire that has consumed 583ha, including about 250ha of internationally recognised wetland.

The fire started as a permitted and controlled burnoff 10 days ago on a farm in Holz Rd, but spread into pine plantation fanned by north-westerly winds.

Southland deputy principal rural fire officer Elton Smith said the move was a first for firefighting in the south.

Initially two vehicles, commonly known as Gators, were to be used on the conservation land, part of what is collectively known as the Awarua Wetlands complex, but that plan was revised as five groundcrews returned to the scene yesterday, he said.

The Department of Conservation-owned Argo had sped up the operation, handling the difficult terrain with ease, he said.

Fighting the blaze has become a case of dealing with hotspots above ground and burning root systems and earth — including peat — below the surface, Mr Smith said.

Three crews and two tankers will continue work at the scene today.


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