Strong winds reignite bush fire near Queenstown
A 150-hectare bush fire near Queenstown was contained on Wednesday night but firefighters would monitor the situation and dampen down any hotspots.
Strong winds reignited the fire on Wednesday afternoon briefly forcing the road to close only 30 minutes after it re-opened.
Six helicopters were back in the air at 4.30pm to fight the rekindled fire on a hillside near Queenstown.
The blaze began about 11.30pm on Tuesday forcing authorities to close the road between Queenstown and Glenorchy until mid-afternoon Wednesday.
It reopened mid-afternoon, closing briefly as the flames reignited, before reopening again about 4.30pm.
Queenstown police believe the fire started at a Rat Point lakeside camping area and have asked anyone in the area on Tuesday evening to contact them.
The fire reached a 100m high ridgeline with fears it could be pushed towards Queenstown by 90kmh winds forecast for Wednesday evening. However, rain was also expected.
At its peak 50 firefighters and seven helicopters were battling the flames and thick smoke.
CAMPGROUND WOKEN BY CHOPPERS
12 Mile Delta campground operator Stuart Rainbow, near Bob's Cove, said he woke at 4am to the sound of helicopters.
He was worried when he saw a "hot and heavy red glow" on the western side of the campground
"We are responsible for about 170 campers who stayed here last night. So, you gotta think about them and also my family," Rainbow said.
"If you smell a fire here you sort of jump up – it's a big deal because of the red zone," he added.
A few 12 Mile Delta campers were planning to visit Glenorchy but had to postpone their trip due to road closure.
Rainbow was relieved the fire had been brought under control.
"It seemed really bad at four o'clock this morning but now it seems like nothing really," Stuart said.
Otago Rural Fire Authority deputy fire officer Jamie Cowan said about 1km of powerpoles and lines between Queenstown and Glenorchy had been burned.
However, the flames did not reach homes at Bob’s Cove and Closeburn Station.
Queenstown Lakes District Council spokeswoman Michele Poole said it could take three to five days to put the fire out completely.
MISSING TRAMPERS FOUND
Three trampers reported missing in the area of the fire were found safe.
It had been thought the trio were in the Mt Crichton/Lake Isobel area near where firefighters were battling the spreading blaze.
However, all three were accounted for.
POWER OUT TO GLENORCHY
The fire cut electricity to the small settlement of Glenorchy.
Glenorchy Community Association secretary Ingrid Temple said it had been a long night for the township.
No power in Glenorchy and the road closure was making business challenging, she said.
"It's a matter of juggling all the people that come off track today. So trying to sort out their transport requirements."
However, the township was used to working remotely and power failures were common, Temple said. "We don't anticipate it's going to be a quick solution so we're just going to to the best we can in those circumstances. We just have to roll with it."
GENERATORS RUNNING AT CAMPSITE
Mrs Woolly's Campground and general store owner Steve Hewland said campers did not seem too worried.
"We didn't even know [about the fire] until this morning when we started getting all the text messages."
Hewland said with generators working, he was trying to run the business "as usual" today.