23 Jul 2012

Frosty winter blamed for large Otago scrub fire

11:26 am on 23 July 2012

Firefighters say a frosty winter seems to have been a big factor in a scrub fire that burned through 1500 hectares in Otago.

The blaze began on Friday from a permitted burnoff near Hyde that got out control and burned farmland tussock and a small area of plantation forest.

Three crews at the scene are bringing in an infra-red camera to detect hot spots from the fire, which has been contained.

Dunedin's principal rural fire officer Graeme Still says the land is wet, but several weeks of heavy frosts have sucked the moisture out of the light tussock vegetation, leaving it quite dry.

Mr Still says firefighters will have to remain at the scene for several days.

He says rain is needed to finish off the fire, but none is forecast.