Forestry site in flames

01:11, Feb 12 2014
Fire at a logging site near Blenheim this morning

Eight fire tankers and 25 firefighters are battling a large blaze at a forestry site near Blenheim.

Renwick volunteer firefighters were called shortly after 4am to Northbank Rd, Onamalutu, west of Renwick, after a logging truck driver heading up the hill reported seeing flames.

The crew was stood down and replaced by Marlborough rural firefighters about 6am.


Marlborough Kaikoura principal rural fire officer Richard McNamara said a fire about 80 metres by 40m took hold of heavy logging and waste wood on the side of a logging site.

It was likely the blaze started by spontaneous combustion, he said.

''It's like compost heating up. It gets so hot in there, it smoulders then ignites.''


Rural tankers from Linkwater, Waihopai, Blenheim and Rarangi were at the scene. Two additional large tankers, carrying 10,000 litres and 6000 litres of water, had been brought in to help tackle the blaze.

A bulldozer and a digger were being used to create fire breaks and to make way for the tankers, which were able to get to the blaze, despite it being on a steep 30 degree slope.

Two Marlborough helicopters had used monsoon buckets to dump water on hot spots but had been stood down about 9am, Mr McNamara said.

Westerly winds coming down the Wairau River and an expected temperature of 27 degrees Celsius meant there was an increased likelihood of the fire spreading, he said.

Firefighters were putting in extra effort creating the fire breaks, he said.

''The only way to contain it is to put a cap on the site - to cover it with dirt,'' he said.

He expected crews to be replaced with forestry fire response crews later in the day.

The Marlborough Express