Nelson crew battles barrier blaze

Homes evacuated as scrub fire spreads

ADAM ROBERTS
Last updated 15:41 23/01/2013
BLAZE ON BARRIER: A massive scrub fire burns in the Kaitoke beach area of Great Barrier Island.
PETRA BAGUST (@petrabagust)/Twitter

BLAZE ON BARRIER: A massive scrub fire burns in the Kaitoke beach area of Great Barrier Island.

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A crew of five Nelson firefighters is heading north to help fight a large scrub fire on Great Barrier Island.

The crew had been on stand-by for deployment in Tasmania, but a national call for aid has meant they will head to the island instead.

The blaze began yesterday and has already covered 112 hectares and led to the evacuation of about 20 homes. Forty firefighters and three helicopters are already on the scene.

Waimea deputy principal rural fire officer Doug Ashford said the National Rural Fire Authority had requested help from fire services around the country at about 10am, and confirmed that request at about 1pm.

Other crews from near Rotorua were also on their way to the island.

The men would take supplies and personal protective clothing, enough to sustain them for several days.
Mr Ashford said the call-up showed how stretched resources were all over the country.

The men were specialist forestry firefighters, with knowledge of how scrub fires behaved, and normally worked together as a team, he said.

''They work hard and they understand each other.''

He believed the Nelson team was the southernmost sent to the fire.

The deployment comes hours before six Nelson firefighters return from battling fires in Tasmania. The crew will arrive in Nelson at about 8pm.

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