Barrier blaze under control but days from being fully extinguished
Thursday 24 Jan 2013 6:59 a.m.
By 3 News online staff
Firefighters from Rotorua and Nelson have taken over operations on Great Barrier Island this morning.
The major scrub fire on the remote island was brought under control yesterday but it could take several days for the blaze to be completely extinguished.
For the last two days the fire has been fought by local firefighters, the majority of whom are volunteers, but today they have largely been relieved by firefighters from other parts of the country. Currently 45 volunteer rural firefighters are in attendance.
The fire spread across 112 hectares of native bush and pine forests and led to the evacuation of 20 homes.
The scorched forest stretches more than a kilometre long. Firefighters had to work swiftly to dampen the charred ground before the blaze spread across the road to homes and businesses.
Work on the fire was suspended overnight and by morning the flames had once again flared up, though firefighters say all flare ups occurred within the current containment lines.
Helicopters with monsoon buckets will today work to dampen the flames while ground crews will focus on dampening hotspots to ensure the fire will not be reignited.
The cause of the fire is still unknown, and an independent fire investigator will be on site today to help with the investigation.
Around 900 people live on the island in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf and so far no property damage has resulted from the blaze and residents that were evacuated from the Okupu Ridge area have returned to their properties.