29 Jan 2021

Northland blaze contained but expected to burn for days

2:08 pm on 29 January 2021

A major blaze in Northland has been contained, but is not fully under control.

A firefighter on scene at an incident. 6 July 2016.

Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

The fire in Matawaia, south of Kaikohe, has now burned through 178 hectares of forest land.

The fire has been burning for more than 12 hours.

Fire and Emergency senior manager John Booth said the forest fire was being battled from the air and ground, with helicopters, heavy excavators and more than 40 firefighters on the scene.

"The nearest houses are about a kilometre away ... and that's what we are really using the helicopters for, stopping the fire getting any closer to the houses than what it is now," Booth said.

He said wind conditions were hampering efforts, with gusts blowing upwards of 30 knots.

"That sort of wind velocity, it doesn't help contain the fire, but we are putting a lot of effort into stopping it expanding over the containment lines which have already been cut in," he said

The blaze was expected to continue burning for up to three more days, he said.

Booth advised nearby residents to stay home, keep out of smoke and ash which is blowing around and keep windows closed, and if they started feeling unwell to seek medical attention.

He said the residents are being notified about the risks.