Fire safety warning as blaze contained

Fire safety warning as blaze contained

A large forest fire in Marlborough has been contained to 450 hectares, say fire authorities.

Firefighters have spent four days battling the blaze in the Waikakaho Valley, north of Blenheim.

It started on Wednesday and while it did not burn homes, forestry machinery and some vehicles were destroyed.

About 30 houses were evacuated during the blaze as a precaution as nine helicopters helped fight the flames.

Firefighters had done a great job today and the total spread has been confined to 450ha, said principal rural fire officer Richard McNamara.

The Tua Marina Track has reopened and the Waikakaho Valley Rd was opened to residents only.

But the fire has taken up large resources - about 500 man-hours and 200 flying hours - Mr McNamara said.

"We are living in a fire-prone environment and I don't want to burn our volunteers' time dealing with fires caused by campfires or chainsaws or mowers being used in the heat of the day," Mr McNamara said.

"Everyone should be aware of the risk and no one should be taking any chances."

A total fire ban has been imposed across Marlborough, and Christchurch City Council said yesterday a combination of warm temperatures and the lack of rain has prompted fire restrictions for rural Christchurch as well as a ban on outdoor fires in the urban fire district.

Christchurch rural fire manager Murray Sinclair said permits are now needed to light any type of outdoor fire other than a barbecue in the Christchurch rural fire district area, which includes Banks Peninsula.

NZN