Fire nearly extinguished

Fire nearly extinguished

17 March 2010

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New Zealand —  After 35 days and a bill of more than $500,000, a fire in the Far North is just about out.

Firefighters will stay at the site at Kaimaumau, 30km north of Kaitaia on the shores of Rangaunu Harbour, until the blaze is declared officially out – which means no flare-ups over the next two weeks.

Volunteer and rural firefighters along with five helicopters were quick to put out the surface fire when it broke out on February 9, but the fire made it into the peat.

Firefighters have been at the scene for more than a month injecting the earth with water in a bid to extinguish the fire.

Head of the operation Kevin Ihaka said crews were expected to start moving out gear today.

But two firefighters would remain over the next two weeks to watch for any hotspots and flare-ups.

“There will will be someone patrolling the area every day checking for ignitions,” Mr Ihaka said. “Hopefully we have some good rain and that will end it for good.”

The suspicious fire has burned through 125ha of private, reserve and farm land and was nearly in the same place a fire was sparked in 2006 that took 32 days to extinguish.

Meanwhile, firefighters continued to douse a suspicious fire at Waima Valley Rd, near Kaikohe, which burned 80ha of scrub and native bush.
The fire started about 9.15am on Saturday and 37km/h winds blew flames towards Moehau Marae and a hay barn full of farm equipment.

Far North principal rural fire officer Lance Johnston said visitors going to the marae for an unveiling were turned away because of the risk. The blaze started in an area 50m from the road, which led Mr Johnston to believe it had been deliberately lit.

A bulldozer was back at the fire yesterday opening up roads to allow access for firefighters after a flare-up about 4pm on Monday. Mr Johnston expected crews to be finished today.

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