Helicopter brought in for beach fire

00:42, Mar 07 2014

A helicopter with a monsoon bucket was called in to battle a fire on a clifftop near Waitara early yesterday.

Firefighters were alerted to the blaze, in Otaraoa Rd, just before 6.30am and remained at the scene for more than five hours dampening down hot spots.

The fire is believed to have spread up the cliff face from a bonfire on the beach and has prompted a warning from Taranaki's principal rural fire officer.

Nigel Dravitzki said the blaze appeared to have started from a deliberately lit fire on the beach which had been let go overnight.

"As a consequence the fire underneath the cliff made its way on to the cliff face and directly up the full length of the cliff," Mr Dravitzki said.

"It hit the top and started spreading."

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The Waitara fire brigade initially fought the fire but could not access the clifftop so Mr Dravitzki called in the helicopter.

The helicopter dumped seawater on the blaze for about two hours.

"It's the type of fire that's difficult to put out because of the sea breezes so it takes a fair bit of time to make sure it's out," Mr Dravitzki said.

He said due to a restricted fire season being imposed last week people lighting open-air fires needed a permit.

Mr Dravitzki said he would continue to monitor the weather daily and the restricted season would either be lifted if the region received enough rain or a prohibited season would be imposed meaning no open-air fires would be allowed.

Taranaki Daily News