1 Aug 2014

Crews keep watch on South Island fires

7:54 pm on 1 August 2014

Firefighters are keeping watch overnight on two fires burning in Southland and Central Otago because it's too dangerous to fight them in the dark on Friday.

If you witnessed the fires and would like to share pictures or video with us, please email it to: iwitness@radionz.co.nz

Strong winds of up to 130km/h battered the lower South Island throughout the day.

A 200-hectare band of fire is burning in hill country at Fruitlands, near Alexandra. The Fire Service said rural firefighters are monitoring the blaze, but high winds and the dark are making it impossible to fight it.

Firefighters are also monitoring a 10-hectare vegetation fire south of Gore. Crews will decide at first light how to try to contain both blazes.

Police said no houses are in danger, although motorists using State Highway 8 between Fruitlands and Shingle Creek are being warned smoke could make driving dangerous.

Power restored in Queenstown

A lines company in Queenstown says it has restored electricity to all 3000 customers who lost power when lines came down in high winds on Friday morning.

Strong winds blew trees on to the lines, cutting power supply in Luggate, Frankton, Dalefield, Coronet Peak and Arrowtown. Delta Utility Services warned people to be prepared for further cuts as the strong winds continue.

Coronet Peak and the Remarkables ski fields had to close because the gales have made using the chairlifts too dangerous.

Many trees have fallen and the Queenstown Lakes District Council warned residents in the area to be careful, especially near Lombardy poplars, which are prone to falling in strong winds.

The gale-force winds would make their way up the country on Friday night, with warnings for Wellington and Wairarapa.