Firefighters contain Lowburn Valley fire
CHE BAKER AND GWYNETH HYNDMAN
Three fire crews from Cromwell, Luggate and Tarras plus additional crews from Dunstan were called to a Cromwell area blaze yesterday afternoon, which came within five metres of commercial vineyards before it was extinguished.
More than 25 firefighters were on the ground on Lowburn Valley Rd, after being alerted to the 100 by 40 metre blaze in a rural subdivision area just before 5pm. The fire was under control by 7pm, with crews remaining to dampen down the area.
A NZ Fire Service spokesman said the fire had been highly visible and calls had come in from around the district alerting them to the location.
Firefighters were also battling strong winds.
Just before 6pm the spokesman said the fire was still "burning well".
Lowburn Valley visitor Neville Bryant - who was staying with friends in the sub-division - said he spotted the fire early on and brigades arrived just in time.
The fire came within about five metres of the vineyards, believed to be owned by Chard Farm.
"It could have been disastrous," Mr Bryant said. "[the fire] came within five metres of the grapevines.
"I'm pleased they arrived when they did, because several houses would have threatened".
While initial reports from people nearby suggested the blaze started with unattended hot ashes, Cromwell chief fire officer Steve Shaw said it was not yet clear how the fire started.
A rural fire officer would be investigating, he said.
- The Southland Times
Two dead while the washing hung on the line (graphic content)