Navy to help contain Great Barrier fire

CHARLES ANDERSON
Last updated 07:34 25/01/2013
Great Barrier fire
ISLAND BLAZE: A Civil Defence map shows the area hit by fire on Great Barrier Island.

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Firefighters battling a blaze on Great Barrier Island will resume their work this morning as the navy arrives to help contain the fire.

Winds are forecast to strengthen later today which could further aggravate the fire which has burned more than 115 hectares near the settlement of Claris. 

Forty-five fire fighters have been working to contain the fire which has been burning since Tuesday.

Offshore Navy Patrol Vessel HMNZS OTAGO will arrive this morning to transfer almost five tonnes of firefighting equipment and relief supplies from the Devonport Naval Base to the island off the coast of Auckland.

The vessel, which had been at sea conducting training, was rapidly redeployed to help at the request of the Department of Conservation.

Fire retardant chemicals and other associated equipment as well as food and water will also arrive in the Whangaparapara Harbour this morning. 

An Auckland Council spokesman said no properties were under threat but about 30 homes had been evacuated as a precaution. 

Meanwhile, a scrub fire that closed Hunua Rd, south of Auckland, this morning has been deemed suspicious.

The fire service was alerted to a tree fire in the Hunua Gorge at 5.15am. 

It has since been contained, though fire fighters were still dampening down hotspots, a fire communications spokeswoman said.

Hunua Rd has been reopened. Access to the sheer cliff face was limited and eight fire crews were dispatched to contain the fire before it spread into the Hunua Ranges.

The fire caused minor rock slides and threatened the stability of the rock face.

But an Auckland Transport spokesman said a geotechnical expert had been called in and the area had been declared safe.

Auckland Council spokesman Glyn Walters said the fire was about the size of half a football field.

He said people need to be extra cautious in the current climate if they are using equipment that generates heat or even discarding cigarettes. 

''It is very dry out there and people need to be extra cautious. That's a message we are going to be putting out over the next couple of weeks because there is no sign of rain."

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