4 Jan 2006

More bushfires under control in New Caledonia

4:52 pm on 4 January 2006

More bushfires have come under control in New Caledonia, where the arrival of a humid air mass has lowered the risk of new fires.

The fire at Mont Dore, in the suburbs of Noumea, was in the course of being extinguished today.

The fire burnt protected forest areas and was described as an ecological disaster.

Meanwhile, several fires in the interior of the main island are still active or under surveillance.

At Thio a fire on the eastern coast is steadily making its way towards the mountains.

At Bourail on the western coast, water-bombing helicopters have helped contain a fire which had advanced through a palm forest, destroying several hundred hectares.

In the district of Voh, a fire on the crests of hills may require aircraft to move in to stop it spreading.

In less than two weeks, some 6,000 hectares of vegetation have gone up in smoke in New Caledonia.

Inquiries are under way into the origin of the fires, which many people consider to be arson.