23 Dec 2013

Blaze threatened main power link

8:38 pm on 23 December 2013

A fierce bush fire in the Marlborough Sounds threatened the electricity supply from the South Island to the North Island before firefighters brought it under control.

Helicopters fought the blaze with monsoon buckets.

Helicopters fought the blaze with monsoon buckets. Photo: NELSON MARLBOROUGH RESCUE HELICOPTER TRUST

An unoccupied bach was destroyed in Flagg Bay at Port Underwood and other properties were threatened after a tree fell across a power line, starting a fire that engulfed six hectares of bush on Saturday afternoon.

The main transmission line carrying power between the South and North islands was within 100 metres of the rapidly-spreading fire.

Principal rural fire officer Richard McNamara said if the fire had become larger it could have put out a column of smoke which may have shorted the line.

"But because we got onto that fire very quickly, particularly with the six helicopters and then later with the ground crews (we) kept the fire to a relatively small area of around six hectares and therefore the smoke column didn't get to the point where it would threaten the main DC link."

An infra-red scan of the area was carried on Monday morning to check for any areas that might still be burning, and Mr McNamara hoped the fire would be fully contained by the end of the day.

Another, much smaller scrub fire broke out in Rarangi on Monday afternoon, but Mr McNamara says it has been contained by local residents.

But he says both fires are a timely reminder of the dangers of scrub and bush fires as we approach the heat of the summer.