Blaze in Sounds
Two firefighters hurtIAN ALLEN
Two firefighters have been airlifted to Wairau Hospital, in Blenheim, after they were hurt fighting a bush fire in the Marlborough Sounds.
The Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter was called to Flagg Bay, at Port Underwood, about 4.45pm today.
The helicopter's onboard intensive care paramedic was required to assess the men as soon as it landed.
A 21-year-old was treated for smoke inhalation while a 50-year-old was suffering from an abdominal injury sustained while trying to evade the fire that changed direction and was started coming towards the firefighters. While the helicopter's medic was making his assessment of the men, the helicopter was further tasked by Rural Fire to undertake and aerial sweep of the beach frontage below the blaze, looking for unaccounted residents that had possibly self evacuated to the beach.
No residents were located and the helicopter transported the two firefighters to Wairau's emergency department.
The Express understands up to 10 baches were evacuated because of the fire, thought to have started when a felled tree landed on a power line.
Helicopters were flying over Flagg Bay pouring water on the flames.
Residents gathered at Hakahaka Bay, about 2.5km away.
Blenheim men Brent Rea and Andrew Lucas had planned to stay at Flagg Bay for the weekend. They were diving for Paua when they saw the smoke and got concerned for their wives and children.
Mr Rea said the flames were blowing away for the houses before the wind changed.
They were almost engulfed by the smoke, he said.
"That's when we thought it was time to get out of there."
Mr Rea believed a man was cutting down a tree with a chainsaw when it fell and clipped a power line, which caused the blaze and power outage.
A number of poisoned wilding pines caught fire, he said.
"Shit they took off."
Amy Lucas said she was playing on the beach with her children when a man told them a power line was down.
The line was hanging over the top of them being held up by trees.
She got three children into the car, two aged two-years-old and a three-month old baby, and drove off.
The crackling off the flames sounded like water, Mrs Lucas said.
"Seconds after we heard the (fire) I looked in the rear view mirror and the whole road that we had just driven on was totally engulfed."
It was the scariest experience of her life, she said.
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