Over 30 hectares of forestry and slash destroyed in Matakana Island fire

Firefighters have contained a large fire on Matakana Island, north of Tauranga, that burned through around 37 hectares of forestry and slash.

Two helicopters, nine fire trucks and 26 crew battled the blaze which Fire and Emergency (FENZ) was alerted to at 7:36pm on Saturday evening. 

District Commander Jeff Maunder said with the winds easing, crews are confident about containing the fire within its current boundaries.

On Sunday morning, firefighting crews from the Tauranga area travelled to the island by barge, to prevent it from spreading into pine forest.

Firefighters and three helicopters with monsoon buckets worked to suppress the fire, while heavy machinery was used to make firebreaks.

"While the weather conditions have been mostly favourable for firefighting so far, the sea breeze was causing flare-ups this afternoon," he told Newshub earlier on Sunday.

The fire as seen from the mainland on Sunday morning.
The fire as seen from the mainland on Sunday morning. Photo credit: Newshub

Smoke drifting across the harbour towards Tauranga has prompted several people to call emergency services, and FENZ warns anyone affected to stay indoors with their windows closed.

FENZ is asking people to stay away from the island and to avoid flying drones in the area.

Firefighters will stay on the island overnight and an investigation into the fire has begun.

It comes after a large fire also broke out on the island in December 2020, taking firefighters more than a week to extinguish.