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Great Barrier Island fire under control after 4 days; navy staff join volunteers

Posted By admin On January 25, 2013 @ 3:35 pm In Latest Headlines,Police,PressRelease | No Comments

News from Auckland Council
The fire on Great Barrier Island has been contained. There were no major flare ups overnight and firebreaks have been strengthened with helicopters dampening hotspots and heavy machinery moving debris.

Navy personel arrived last night on the HMS Otago and are available to assist with ground operations today. Forty five volunteer rural firefighters continue to work on the fire’s containment perimeter and helicopters remain on the Island to provide support.

No properties are under threat.

Weather conditions remain dry and winds are predicted to get stronger this afternoon, possibly reaching 40km/h.

Auckland Council’s Rural Fire team continues to lead the response with help from the Fire Service, National Rural Fire Authority and the Police.

A small fire also broke out early this morning in steep terrain in the Hunua Gorge in the southern part of the Auckland region. The fire closed the main road. It is under control and in mop up stage, and expected to be fully extinguished shortly.

News from Auckland Council – January 24
Changes in heat and humidity this afternoon have seen renewed fire activity on Great Barrier Island within the contained fire area. Visible flames and smoke are due to controlled vegetation burn-offs within the contained area.

Forty five volunteer rural firefighters continue to work on the fire’s containment perimeter and a helicopter remains on the Island to support activities. No properties are under threat.

Auckland Council’s Rural Fire team, with the assistance of the Department of Conservation ground crews, is working in shifts to suppress any further breakouts and dampen hotspots. Strengthening the containment lines in preparation for the weekend’s forecast is top priority.

The New Zealand Defence Force is also assisting with transporting additional supplies to the ground crews on the island.

Auckland Council’s Rural Fire team is leading the response with further assistance from the Fire Service, National Rural Fire Authority and the Police.

Earlier News from Auckland Council
Around 45 volunteer rural firefighters will continue to work on the perimeter of the fire on Great Barrier Island today. The total fire area remains at 112 hectares. Overnight a few flare ups did occur, however these were well within the containment lines and did not spread beyond the existing fire limits. Containment lines were strengthened by the ground crew and thermal imagery was used to identify hotspots.

Weather conditions are favourable for this ground based operation today, however increased winds expected tomorrow and Saturday mean continuing work to strengthen containment lines is a top priority.

No property damage has occurred and residents who were evacuated from the Okupu Ridge area have returned to their properties. With the assistance of the Department of Conservation, additional supplies were shipped to the Island overnight.

Bryan Cartelle, Principal Rural Fire Officer would like to reiterate his thanks to the community for all the support during this incident. “The community and volunteers have done an amazing job and this is much appreciated,” he says.

Operations at Claris airport have been affected but Okiwi airfield is still operational; extra support staff are being deployed there.

An independent fire investigator will be on site today to help establish the cause of the fire.

Auckland Council’s Rural Fire team is leading the response with assistance from the Department of Conservation, Fire Service, National Rural Fire Authority and the Police.

News from Auckland Council – January 23
Big gains have been made in reducing the fire front on Great Barrier Island to the southwest of Claris airfield, and containment on all three fire fronts has progressed well. Bryan Cartelle, Principal Rural Fire Officer says he is pleased with progress.

“Diggers are now excavating firebreaks. The three helicopters and 40 crew will continue their work until dusk.

“Two fresh Department of Conservation fire fighting teams arrive today and additional crews are also on their way from Nelson and Rotorua. They begin work tomorrow morning, relieving today’s crews. I would like to thank all the crews and everyone who has gone the extra mile today – it’s been a big effort.”

“Currently we are experiencing 20 to 25km/hr northeasterly breezes, which should ease to less than 10km/h this evening, which will aid our efforts.”

Police have extra officers present on the island overnight. The cause of the fire has not been established and is being investigated.

Earlier News from Auckland Council – January 23
Three helicopters and 40 volunteer rural firefighters continue to fight the fire on Great Barrier Island. The fire front is approximately one kilometre in length, covering 112 hectares. Auckland Council’s Rural Fire team is leading the response with assistance from the Department of Conservation, Fire Service and Police.

Containment is concentrated at the southern side of the fire closest to Claris airfield. No property damage has occurred and 20 properties in the Okupu Ridge area remain evacuated.

No further welfare assistance has been requested today. All roads are now open.

Modest northeasterly winds overnight have continued to spread the fire in a south and southeasterly direction.

Operations at Claris airport have been affected but Okiwi airfield is still operational; extra support staff are being deployed there.

Northeasterly winds, between 35 and 40km/hr, are forecast for the remainder of the day but are expected to ease this evening and overnight.

Firefighters worked through the night with fresh crews started at 0630 hours. Due to safety concerns, helicopter crews were stood down overnight but have returned to full operation.

Earlier news from Auckland Council
Three helicopters are fighting a fire, approximately one kilometre in extent, on Great Barrier Island. The southern side of the fire, closest to Claris airfield, is still active. Rural fire staff are doing reconnaissance this morning to establish the extent of the affected area.

No property damage has occurred and no-one has been injured. The protection of life and property are key priorities and a welfare centre has been established at a local club for those who were evacuated overnight.

Police have been in to assist with the evacuation, road closures and to ensure public safety. As a precaution 20 properties in the Okupu Ridge area were evacuated overnight to the Okupu Sports Centre, although the fire has not yet entered the Okupu area.

Modest northeasterly winds overnight have continued to spread fire in a south and southeasterly direction. Hector-Sanderson Road was breached by the fire overnight and subsequently closed.

Okiwi airfield is still operational but operations at Claris airport have been affected.


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