Wildfire warning

A wildfire battled by fire crews at the Waituna Wetlands Scientific Reserve since Monday night was brought under control yesterday morning, but the cause of the blaze is still unknown.

It took five ground crews and three helicopters to bring the fire under control after it burnt through 498 hectares of the internationally-recognised wetlands.

The rural fire authority's principal fire officer, Mike Grant, said that although the flames had died down, work continued to ensure the fire was completely out.

While weather conditions in Southland had been wet, with average rainfall recorded, scrubby vegetation dried quickly after rain and could burn within two to three hours, even in cold conditions, he said.

Crews yesterday continued to patrol the fire perimeter and dampen down hot-spots to make sure the fire was fully extinguished.

Fire investigators were still to determine what caused the blaze.

"This fire is an opportunity for people to think about what fire risks may be on their property," Mr Grant said.

"Although this fire occurred in a wetland it could have occurred anywhere. Fine, dry scrubby vegetation can be found around home gardens, farmland, hedges, and dry dead grasses, at any time of the year."

The Southland Times