Firefighters turn tide in Great Barrier fire

Firefighters turn tide in Great Barrier fire

23 January 2013

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New Zealand — Firefighters say they may have finally gotten a handle on a blaze on Great Barrier Island they’ve battled all day.

Gary Schmidt was in his house as the fire broke and watched it unfold in front of him.

“I got home about 4 and all of a sudden there was smoke,” he says, “It got kinda scary.”

Mr Schmidt decided to stay at home but he had his emergency evacuation pack ready if the fires got too close.

“I already had an emergency kit there with food, etc, water, and that was basically for tsunami or volcanic whatever.”

Twenty homes were evacuated overnight as the fire spread, covering 112 hectares of tinder bush.

“We’ve got 40 ground crews working in different areas,” says Auckland rural fire officer Tom Haare.

“A few on hot spots, we’ve currently contained the head of the fire but we are currently working down the Southern flank.”

The scorched forest stretches more than a kilometre long. Firefighters had to work swiftly to dampen the charred ground before the blaze spread across the road to homes and businesses.

Fire is one of the biggest threats to Great Barrier Island, much of which is covered in flammable manuka and pine.


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