Battle against Central Otago blaze to resume

Rain and low cloud have helped suppress the large fire burning in inland Otago.

A photograph of the fire taken at about 4pm on Saturday. Photo: Supplied / Fire and Emergency NZ

Fire and Emergency incident commander Graeme Still said the fire spread overnight, but the extent of the blaze has not been completely mapped this morning.

Ten millimetres of rain fell this morning and that, combined with low cloud, had helped contain the fire.

There was no active fire front, although some smouldering hotspots remained. They would be tackled by ground crews once crews could get access.

Efforts to fight the blaze, which burnt through about 2800 hectares of land near Middlemarch before nightfall on Saturday, meant Dunedin‘s main water source – Deep Stream Reservoir – was contaminated with fire retardant.

The council‘s three waters group manager, Tom Dyer, said the city would not be taking water from the reservoir as a precaution and has also stopped taking water from Deep Creek as a precaution until its safety could be officially cleared.

Formal restrictions were not being imposed but the city was asked to conserve water, Mr Dyer said.

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The effort to bring a under control was scheduled resume at first light this morning.

Helicopters and ground crews were earlier on standby, waiting to tackle the blaze, which burned overnight.

Emergency crews were assessing the state of the fire, which began near the Te Papanui Conservation Park yesterday morning and spread to adjoining land owned by the Dunedin City Council.

Up to 10 helicopters at a time with monsoon buckets battled the blaze all day yesterday as the fire burned through scrub and tussock.

It started near Te Papanui Conservation Park yesterday morning, fanned by 50 kilometre an hour winds and hot weather.

One home has been evacuated as a precaution but so far no homes are under threat in what is a remote and hard to reach part of the country.

Those sensitive to smoke have been told to stay inside with their windows shut.

Fire and Emergency said it was working with police, St John and Emergency Management personnel in case further evacuations were needed.

It‘s hoped showers and light winds forecast for this morning will help with extinguishing the fire today.

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