Great barrier fire: Homes evacuated

KIRSTY JOHNSTON
Last updated 22:37 22/01/2013
Kaitoke
@petrabagust

TWEETED: Petra Bagust posted this picture, saying "Fire at Kaitoki flared up again, winds strong and not a good direction this time. 3 choppers with buckets working."

Kaitoke
MICHAEL FIELD/ Fairfax NZ
ABLAZE: A section of coastline near Kaitoke, Great Barrier Is, where fire services are trying to control a fire threatening homes and businesses.

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A small crew is fighting a large bush fire on Great Barrier Island tonight but helicopters have been grounded for safety reasons.


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Some precautionary evacuations have taken place around the Claris area, Auckland council principal rural fire officer Bryan Cartelle said tonight.

Around 20 hectares of mainly wilding pine has been destroyed but no economic plantations have yet been hit.

Crews are fighting it mainly for the safety of the 15 houses in the area, which were evacuated earlier today.

Mr Cartelle said one helicopter has been sent back to the mainland but two will be in action in the morning.

“We’ve got a decent amount of work ahead of us over the next couple of days.”

Winds “are not in our favour” and the blaze will take time to contain.

Meanwhile, firefighters have been battling two other major blazes in the region.

Northern fire communications shift manager Jaron Phillips said the biggest blaze was on the Pouto Peninsula near Dargaville.

It had destroyed around 180 hectares of mainly plantation forest and was still burning.

Four helicopters had been working to contain the blaze on the Pouto Peninsula, while two diggers and two bulldozers created fire breaks.

Up to 60 men were fighting the fire today, he said.

Tonight a fire broke out at Kawakawa Bay, east of Manukau City.

Firefighters had to be taken to the scene by Coast Guard vessel and bought the fire under control after it had burnt over around two hectares.

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