Peninsula native bush reserve ablaze

03:31, Jul 13 2011
Fire
SMOULDERING: Helicopters work to contain the fire on the Banks Peninsula hillside this morning.

Firefighters hope to have a large bush fire in a remote area of Banks Peninsula under control by the end of the day.

The fire, which was likely started by a lightning strike about 1pm yesterday, now covers about 300 hectares of bush at Stony Bay, including the Hinewai Reserve.

Christchurch City Council, emergency services and about 30 rural volunteer firefighters had been fighting the blaze since last night.

Fire
BLAZE: The fire burning on the hillside last night.

Overnight winds pushed the fire to Stony Bay Peak, about five kilometres from Akaroa, spreading it across 400 hectares of bush at the peak of the fire.

The blaze was visible from Akaroa.

The Christchurch City Council said an investigation into the cause of the fire was continuing, but it was probably started by a lightning strike.

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Fire
SMOULDER: Helicopters work to dampen down the smouldering hillside this morning.

Four houses were evacuated at dusk yesterday because of concerns winds could push the fire towards them. The residents were expected to be able to return to their homes tonight.

A resident, who did not want to be named, said the fire was "pretty damn scary".

It was also a shame for the hard work done at the Hinewai Reserve, she said.

Principal rural fire officer Keith Marshall said access to the site was limited and firefighting was continuing with helicopters today.

"Right now, we have around 80 per cent of the fire's perimeter under control. We are monitoring strong nor'west wind gusts this afternoon and will continue our efforts to put out the fire today and tomorrow."

The Hinewai Reserve, managed by renowned botanist Hugh Wilson, includes more than 12,000ha of gorse and regenerating native bush. It has more than 20 walking tracks, including part of the Banks Peninsula Track.

The council has asked residents to avoid using Long Bay Rd to keep it clear for emergency vehicles.

- Stuff and The Press