Forest fire hard to extinguish

Forest fire hard to extinguish

19 October 2012

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New Zealand– A fire that ravaged part of the council-owned Kaipatangata Forestry Block may take weeks before it is finally out.

The blaze, in 5ha of forest off Dalefield Rd in Carterton, was yesterday contained. It had engulfed a valley near the top of the ranges and thick smoke covered the area.

One part of the valley was still burning yesterday but firefighters were confident it was under control for the moment.

The fire erupted on Wednesday afternoon and forced firefighters to briefly retreat due to high winds before they returned that evening and were able to contain it.

Carterton District Council chief executive Colin Wright estimates the cost will only be a few thousand dollars and insurance should cover it.

“We have some insurance cover but it is well in excess of anything that resulted here,” he said.

“We lost some new plantings and some small elements of new trees.

“The area concerned was harvested only a short time ago.”

Mr Wright said he had no idea how much the fire will cost to put out, or what the council have to contribute.

“I expect we will have to pay something but it’s too early to say at the moment.

“Our first priority is keeping the fire under control and extinguishing it.”

Principal Wairarapa Rural Fire Officer Phill Wishnowsky said the blaze was under control last night but there was always a chance of a flare up.

“Everything’s looking as good as we could hope for given the conditions. There are bits and pieces of hot spots still burning but they are not providing any risks.

“On Wednesday you could see the smoke extending out to the coast in a long, narrow plume – it was very, very obvious, you could still see it the next day.”

Fire crews had been breaking up and reducing the hot spots from early yesterday morning.

Mr Wishnowsky said it was common for a fire to re-emerge, even after two or three months, because embers can stay hot in the ground for a long time.

“This kind of thing highlights the need to be very aware when lighting fires.

“People think when they put a fire out it’s out, but this doesn’t mean there’s no heat under the surface.”

Carterton fire chief Wayne Robinson said it would be difficult to put out the blaze completely.

“There are areas that won’t be put out because they’ll take weeks to put out – we’ll just let them burn out.”



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