25 Feb 2010

Fire still burning underground after two weeks

8:51 pm on 25 February 2010

A fire in peatlands north of Kaitaia is still burning below ground, two weeks after it started.

Fire authorities believe that the blaze in the Kaimaumau swamp, which started on 10 February, was deliberately lit.

The chief rural fire officer for the district, Kevin Ihaka, said on Wednesday that 18 firefighters were pumping seawater into the peat through a two-kilometre hose line.

He said it could take another two weeks to put the fire out unless heavy rain fell on the parched region.

Mr Ihaka said the fire had scorched 120 hectares of scrub, some of it on private land, and some on Department of Conservation reserve.

The cost of fighting it, estimated at several hundred thousand dollars, is paid by the Rural Fire Authority from a national fund.