Pines Beach blaze suspicious

  • 19/02/2016
The fire broke out at 2am (Newshub.)
The fire broke out at 2am (Newshub.)

Fire fighters have a long week ahead to keep a large blaze at north Canterbury township Pines Beach under control.

More than 40 fire fighters and two diggers are on hand to fight the fire, which broke out around 2am this morning.

A helicopter that was helping crews has been stood down and a bulldozer is being brought in to assist as well. 

Waimakariri Principal Rural Fire Officer Tim Sheppard says it's burning in about six hectares of a pine plantation which runs behind houses in the area.

"The fire is apparently 800 metres to a kilometre long, it's in a coastal protection strip so there's no real values at risk, which is good."

There are still flames but the fire is under control as long as the wind stays still, Mr Sheppard says.

Lots of dead wood that had come down in the earthquake or from previous storms was helping to fuel the fire. Fire crews have been told it will be dangerous work because it is old man's pine that becomes brittle. They've been told to keep an eye out above them.

The fire crews have undergone a shift change but Mr Sheppard thought crews would be there for about a week to keep the fire under control.

It's being treated as suspicious.

Fire crews getting briefed for the day ahead (Annabelle Tukia)

Tuhaitara coastal park runs along the coast to Pines Beach.

It's frustrating for people living in the community who have to get up in the middle of the night because of the fire, Te Kohaka o Tuhaitara Trust general manager Greg Byrnes says.

The pine trees play a really important part in out competing weeds in the park.

He says it's sad to think it may have been deliberately lit.

"It's getting to the point where we're really concerned that the longer it goes the more likely it is that someone's probably likely to be hurt."

Mr Byrnes thought there were about 12 to 15 fires last summer and about six to eight fires this season already.

"We're absolutely committed to making sure those communities down there are safe," he says.

It is expected to reach 29 degrees in the Pines Beach area today.