Residents forced to flee Kaimaumau again as fire flares up

A witness photo of the fire.
A witness photo of the fire. Photo credit: Kathryn Perkins / Supplied


Residents living near a large scrub fire in the Northland settlement of Kaimaumau are being told to evacuate for the second time in two weeks.

Firefighters have been battling the blaze for about 15 days, but it has flared up again in the past 24 hours.

The fire is burning within a perimeter of more than 31 kilometres and there is now concern about shifting winds blowing smoke towards houses.

Nearby residents have been told to evacuate to Waiharara immediately.

The blaze on the wetland was first reported on December 18, and has burned through 2300 hectares of bush, scrub, swamp and dune vegetation.

NZ Fire and Emergency incident controller John Sutton said access to the beach had been closed because people's safety cannot be guaranteed.

He said as well as the many fires burning inside the firebreaks, other hazards include fire-damaged trees, deep holes left by gum diggers and peat fires burning underground.

Throughout the fortnight helicopters have been used to dump water on the flames and surrounding areas, and heavy machinery has been used to create firebreaks.

But changing winds have allowed the blaze to jump firebreaks and play havoc with firefighters' ability to contain it.

It is feared the fire will have damaged sacred iwi sites, and could have decimated rare flora and fauna in the wetlands.