Rural firefighters are still at the scene of a large vegetation fire in Northern Southland that started last night.
Southern Rural Fire Authority principal rural fire officer Mike Grant said the large vegetation fire south of Lumsden started after the landowner decided to burn off material.
Gale-force winds and high temperatures had been forecast and even though it rained there was still a risk and it was not a day to light a fire, Mr Grant said.
''Even with rain, it was irresponsible to take risks and light a fires during those conditions.''
Fire crews from Lumsden, Mossburn, Dipton and Athol battled to contain the fire.
A fire communications spokesman said a member of the public on State Highway 6 reported about 8.30pm that smoke was rising in the distance.
The crew created fire breaks with heavy machinery and managed to contain about 75 per cent of the fire about midnight.
The fire was believed to have started in a large area of tree trimmings between the Dipton-Castlerock road and the western side of the Oreti River, the spokesman said.
Initially, an appliance and tanker from Lumsden responded but the fire jumped the river so backup was called from the Mossburn volunteer fire brigade and the Dipton and Athol rural brigades.
Increasing winds of about 50 knots were a concern for fire crews because it was spreading the fire the spokesman said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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