Operations cease at ngaruawahia bush fire

18 January 2017

published by http://www.stuff.co.nz


New Zealand    A fire which tore through native bush at a scenic walking track near Ngaruawahia has been brought under control.

Fire crews have stopped ground and aerial operations at the Hakarimata Ranges, but will continue to monitor it overnight on Wednesday.

"Security will monitor the site overnight and the fire service will return at daylight," said Colin Underwood, northern fire communications shift manager.

At least 14 fire crews and three helicopters with monsoon buckets battled a blaze earlier in the evening.

Underdown said the addition of a third helicopter enabled crews to really get on top of the blaze.

The fire has been left in the hands of the Department of Conservation, Underdown said.

Emergency services from Ngaruawahia and Pukete raced to the scene on Hakarimata Rd at 4.52pm.

The blaze, which initially started on a ridge, extending 20 by 30 metres, grew to 600 by 300m in size.

Underdown said it took a bit to gain on the fire front.

A helicopter with a monsoon bucket battled the front of the fire, while two ground crews with forestry packs attacked on another front, with rural fire also helping.

Underdown said the dry conditions, and hot wind did not help firefighters, along with the fact that the fire backed onto a quarry - making approaching it difficult.

The Department of Conservation were called as the fire is on DOC land.

It's not known if anyone had to be evacuated from the hillside, but there are no reports of any homes being threatened, and there have been no injuries.

Underdown said the hill backs onto a quarry and houses are located at the bottom of it.

The Hakarimata Summit Track and Brownlee Ave are closed due.

Waikato District Council is asking residents to limit water use, as fire crews used water directly from the town supply to battle the blaze.