Second blaze sparked by army live fire exercise

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 17:04 24/01/2013

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A fire that has been burning for two days on Defence Force land near Waiouru began after army live fire training.

The blaze was the second to start after an army live fire exercise yesterday. A fire near Christchurch, which started about midday, engulfed 50 hectares before being brought under control.

Chief of staff Dave Harvey said the Waiouru fire is in an area called Three Kings that was "very isolated" and "very rugged, way up in the back block".

The fire began two days ago as a result of artillery fire.

Harvey said the fire may have burnt area of 350 hectares over the past two days, but was now contained to a five hectare area.

Because of the isolation, the army had called for a helicopter to assist and had people dousing the fire with blankets.

The fire, that Harvey described as "small'' in relation to the training area had been contained, he said.

Harvey said if wind increased, the fire could become a concern.

Meanwhile, the Defence Force said a fire that started at its West Melton range, near Christchurch, yesterday was likely caused by live shooting.

The exercise went ahead despite a fire ban, which allows only permit holders to light fires.

The blaze spread despite an appliance being on standby at the army site because of the extreme risk.  

One soldier suffered burns  and was treated for his injuries at Burnham army camp.

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