7 Jan 2020

Large forest fire in Napier contained

3:18 pm on 7 January 2020

Fire crews in New Zealand fought three separate fires yesterday, while more firefighters were busy helping battle blazes in Australia.

Napier fire as seen from Tangoio Marae.

Napier fire as seen from Tangoio Marae. Photo: Supplied / Diana Taunoa

One fire broke out at a pine forest on Tangoio Settlement Road in Napier yesterday morning.

Fire and Emergency said the fire, which spanned 140 hectares yesterday, grew to more than 300 hectares today.

Firefighters said it had been contained by 11am and some personnel may be withdrawn today, but the fire may keep burning for weeks.

At least six fire crews and six helicopters were battling the flames this morning, and fire controller Trevor Mitchell said strong winds which made the fire hard to control yesterday were subsiding.

A property near Napier was evacuated and Fire and Emergency says no other houses are at risk.

Campers in the area were also told to be on alert, in case they also had to be evacuated. Waipatiki Beach Holiday Park owner Shane Ashforth said the local area has been covered in smoke.

Power was restored to the campsite this morning after being cut off overnight.

Ashcroft said firefighters were keeping him informed and had told him the so-far safe situation could change.

He said apart from the smoke in the area, it was like any normal day for those camping at the beach.

Fire and Emergency Incident controller Trevor Mitchell said people should stay off Tangoio Settlement Road.

"It is a very winding, narrow road and we have more than 30 large vehicles including fire trucks and water tankers using it. We do not want sightseers up there," he said, adding that any planned travel to nearby Waipatiki Beach should be delayed.

Another fire in the Fernhill area northwest of Hastings, and one between Bulls and Hunterville which halted trains on the main trunk line, and reduced State Highway 1 to one lane, were extinguished yesterday evening.

Fire and Emergency said although 179 firefighters have been sent on rotation to help Australia fight its enormous and fatal blazes, it was satisfied it had enough firefighting resources to handle the wildfire season in New Zealand.

The organisation said recent summers here had brought several fires of national significance.

The Pigeon Valley fire in the South Island's Tasman region a year ago was New Zealand's largest wildfire in half a century, sweeping across more than 2300ha of land and triggering a three-week state of emergency.

Tasman district principal rural fire officer Ian Reade said the fire risk there was not as severe this year, in part due to the catastrophe in Australia.

"We probably haven't got the temperatures like we had last year and it's a small thing but the smoke from the Australian fires has probably kept some of the temperatures down on some days," he said.

The Port Hills fires in February 2017 burnt through nearly 2000 hectares of land, destroyed nine homes and damaged five more. A helicopter pilot died fighting the blaze and it prompted the creation of Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

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