Fire crews gaining control of Marlborough fire

  • 13/12/2015
Fire crews gaining control of Marlborough fire

A ground attack on the monster Marlborough fire has resumed, with aerial support, after it didn't spread any further despite feared strong northwest winds last night.

The fire in Wairau Valley is the largest in the area in 15 years and is three times larger than Marlborough's last fire a fortnight ago.

It has burned 1200 hectares of pine forests since Thursday and contingency plans are in place to evacuate about a dozen homes in Waihopai Valley if the fire breaks its lines and moves there.

Incident controller Bryan Cartelle says about 85 firefighters attacked the edges of the fire with aerial support from seven helicopters this morning.

Heavy machinery is being used to secure fire control lines.

Mr Cartelle says about 8mm of rain fell and the fire didn't move beyond yesterday's perimeters.

Northwesterly winds are continuing to challenge firefighters but Mr Cartelle is confident good progress will be made toward containing the fire today.

Yesterday, Marlborough principal rural fire officer Richard McNamara said "I think we've got this beast by the tail now but next we have to kill it."

Mr McNamara detailed the danger of the fire to Waihopai Valley residents at a woolshed meeting yesterday.

"We're dealing with a monster - a big fire with a lot of energy and if it gets into the valley we don't want people anywhere near it," he said.

"It's a big fire generating a huge amount of heat - up to 80,000 kilowatts per minute."

Conditions in Marlborough are very dry and there has been criticism of forestry companies harvesting in such conditions.

New Zealand export log prices jumped to a seven-month high in November as demand picked up in China.