Marlborough fire: 'It's a monster'

Marlborough fire: 'It's a monster'

Residents in the Waihopai Valley in Marlborough have an anxious wait as fire threatens their homes and livestock.

The fire is the biggest in the region in 15 years and has burnt through 1200 hectares of pine forest in the Wairau River area.

Fire crews have a serious battle on their hands. Today's the pinch point. The worry is hot and dry norwesterly winds will push the fire towards Waihopai Valley.

The huge fire has left smouldering scars.

"It's a monster," says rural firefighter Ricahrd McNamara. "It's just as bad as fires I've worked on in Australia and the United States – no amount we chuck at it will stop it."

The fire has got momentum and fuel behind it.

In its path, about one kilometre away, are Waihopai Valley residents.

The Weir family are in the direct line of fire. They have already moved their stock out and they are ready to go too.

Their neighbours were also told today to be prepared to pack up and leave.

"We can replace houses but we can't replace people," says Marlborough District Mayor Alistair Sowman.

Up until now fire crews have been tackling the flames from the air, but today they got the window they needed to get boots on the ground.

It's the third major fire in the region this year, and locals say it's the second fire that's started in a forestry block.

Residents are calling for a ban on logging until conditions improve. The Mayor backs their call.

For now though, the battle to control the fire continues, and residents can only wait and hope it doesn't head their way.

Progress has been made today. Four millimetres of rain fell overnight, and there could be a few more drops to come later tonight. But it's unlikely it will make a much of a dent in the fire. It will come down to the wind and the heat as to whether the fire heads towards residents in the valley.

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