Helicopters called in to tackle Queenstown fire

JOHN EDENS
Last updated 05:00 19/09/2013

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Firefighters battled to contain an out-of-control blaze on scrubland off The Remarkables access road near Queenstown yesterday.

Three helicopters attacked the fire with monsoon buckets last night, sweeping back and forth across the bush-covered hillside in an effort to stop the 40-hectare blaze from spreading.

Frankton Fire Service volunteers, Queenstown Lakes District Council principal rural fire officer Gordon Bailey and police were called to the fire about three kilometres up the skifield access road at 3.30pm yesterday.

The fire was finally extinguished at 7pm.

There was a little bit of panic when firefighters arrived at the scene, he said.

The fire, lit on Tuesday, was a permitted controlled burn on land owned by Mike Mee but once out of control it risked spreading across the access road to higher ground, he said.

Two rural firefighting ground crews with beaters and rakes were called after the Frankton brigade stood down.

Skiers and boarders were finishing for the day at the skifield when the fire started spreading and police stopped vehicles on the access road as a precaution.

About 30 vehicles were allowed down the road at 4.30pm and NZSki kept the base building cafe open for stranded boarders and skiers while police allowed the remaining vehicles down the road in stages

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