New Zealand — When 3 News first heard about flames burning deep in the Murchison Forest in the South Island, we thought it sounded more like fiction than fact. But as it turned out, it’s no myth.
The flames were definitely a lot bigger than I thought, I thought they’d be small, but no they were huge coming from the ground there, says Mr Jimmink.
The area is rich in natural gas which has kept the flames burning for decades, but exactly how it was started, by who and when is a little hazy – igniting some tall tales.
The legend I like to believe is the one where a couple of deer hunters came up and they sat down, maybe against this tree here, and they lit a pipe and they threw their match away and the match kept on burning, says tour guide Merve Bigden.
That supposedly happened in the 1920s. Now people pay Mr Bigden to guide them to the flames.
The half-day tour includes a four-wheel drive trip through a deer farm and an hour long walk through beech forest.
In the past the surrounding area has been dug up for oil, and Mr Bigden says he’s worried next time they’ll drill closer to the flames, and affect his business.
Whenever the oil price goes up there are people sniffing around and thinking about whether they should drill another well or not but we’ll see.
But for now his business is still burning bright, shedding light on what he says is one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets. The failure was in the forest areas.Advertisement
Following a 10-year strategy, ACT fire managers have created a mosaic across the landscape of different fuel levels, burning at every opportunity.
But forests have been too wet to burn this spring and the past two summers.
A network of 500 fire trails and strategic burns along the north-west urban edge, heavy grazing and extra grass slashing will create a fortress for the territory which forecasters say faces a higher than average risk this summer.
After a fire-fuelled tornado in January 2003 killed four Canberrans and frightened thousands more, CSIRO fire expert Phil Cheney told the subsequent inquiry the fire’s penetration into urban areas under extreme conditions did not reflect a failure of fuel management on the urban interface.