Fire sweeps through Northland scrub

  • 12/01/2018

A scrub fire has burned through 130ha of reserve land in Northland as more than 30 firefighters and six helicopters battle to get it under control.

The blaze broke out in a Titoki reserve on Thursday afternoon and fire crews, helicopters, a bulldozer and a digger were dispatched to the site.

Fire and Emergency says crews resumed fighting the blaze early on Friday morning, with extra ground staff called in from Whangarei and two water tankers brought in.

No homes or other buildings were at risk from the blaze and the cause was still unknown.

Crews were forced to abandon efforts at 10pm on Thursday and resumed at first light, with the blaze expanding significantly overnight.

There is currently a total fire ban across the entire Northland region.

A total fire ban is also in place in Marlborough and Kaikoura, Gisborne, Horowhenua, Palmerston North, Rangitikei, Thames Valley, Whanganui, and central Otago.

Residents and visitors in these areas are not to use charcoal barbecues, braziers, incinerators or light open fires of any kind.

Marlborough principal rural fire officer John Foley says recent rains in the region had not removed the fire risk.

"We had a really hot, dry November with temperatures soaring to 30degC some days, and we've also had a bit of wind, which is a dangerous combination," he said.

"Essentially the rain we're getting now only makes it appear wet, but in reality, the vegetation is still really dry."

He urged people to be extra vigilant when using chainsaws, ride-on lawnmowers or tractors because they are capable of igniting a fire that may easily spread and "rip through hundreds of hectares".

"Even the exhaust from a motorbike can start a fire in these dry conditions."

Under the total fire ban people may still use gas barbecues, but it's crucial they do so far away from long grass or anything flammable, he said.

NZN / Newshub.