Massive fire on Southland conservation land

Last updated 01:25 20/11/2012
BLAZE ON THE HORIZON: Warren Owen takes pictures of the fire which is believed to have spread across 50 to 60 hectares between Awarua Bay and Waituna Lagoon in Southland.
Fairfax NZ

BLAZE ON THE HORIZON: Warren Owen takes pictures of the fire which is believed to have spread across 50 to 60 hectares between Awarua Bay and Waituna Lagoon in Southland.

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Firefighters from across Southland were last night battling a massive fire on conservation land at Awarua, south of Invercargill.

The fire was believed to have spread across 50 to 60 hectares between Awarua Bay and Waituna Lagoon, partially thanks to a strong wind, although conditions were easing late last night.

Senior Station Officer Neil Ladbrook said three helicopters with monsoon buckets, Invercargill firefighters and dozens of rural fire officers were attacking the fire from different flanks to try to prevent the fire from spreading further before dark.

''They're just trying to make the most of daylight at the moment but they'll probably pull the pin and leave minimum crews overnight, because it sounds like it will be a couple of days involved [to put it out]. That's how much acreage is involved.

Fire crews were preparing for what was expected to be a long battle to put the fire out, with the difficult location making access a challenge.

While the cause of the blaze has not been confirmed, police had been called to the scene of the fire. Senior Sergeant Dave Raynes confirmed officers were there to investigate the cause.

Nearby landowner Reza Abdul-Jabbar said he first noticed the fire about 5.30pm and raised the alarm.

His farm is on the northern edge of the fire zone and he was initially concerned the fire would spread because of the direction of the wind, but it had later changed direction.

He said the land was likely to burn up because it was so dry, and he expected it would take some time to to put out.

Another nearby landowner Warren Owen said the fire had spread along the shoreline of the Waituna Lagoon. He hoped it would not spread to his farmland but was concerned it could move into neighbouring reserve land.

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- The Southland Times

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