Homes are being threatened and residents evacuated as a
reignited scrub fire continues to burn on Great Barrier
Firefighters were called to the Kaitoke beach area on the
southern side of the island about 1.20pm.
Three helicopters with monsoon buckets and about forty
firefighters are fighting the blaze.
Some businesses and homes under threat from the "substantial
fire'' have been evacuated as a precautionary measure, said
Great Barrier Community Board chairman Paul Downie, who
described the fire as devastating.
"It's pretty gutting,'' he said.
He advised residents to prepare a bag of necessary items such
as their driving licence and credit cards in case more people
buildings needed to be evacuated quickly.
"I don't think we're at that stage yet, but we know Great
Barrier is covered in a lot of flammable foliage.''
There were concerns about a number of buildings that could be
in the path of the flames. Fire crews from the local station
and several volunteers were working hard along with
helicopters to contain the fire and prevent it from
spreading, he said.
Claris Airport closed about 3pm and there were no inbound
flights, said the operations manager, who gave his name as
Standing outside the airport, he could see flames, which were
threatening to burn nearby manuka, pohutakawa and gorse.
"It's just across the runway. The (helicopter) buckets are
struggling to keep it under control.
"We've got an onshore wind. It's heading towards the rubbish
tip, golf course commercial buildings and a few houses,'' he
Departing passengers were being bused to the alternative
Okiwi airstrip on the island.
The manager of the Crossroads Backpackers Lodge in Claris,
Katie Langford, said they were getting ready to leave if the
fire got too close.
"All I can see is quite a lot of smoke and we've got choppers
buzzing around the place. It's still burning.
"We haven't been evacuated yet but we're just on standby,''
About 30 firefighters worked on Sunday evening to extinguish
a vegetation fire on the island which covered about 5000
Witness Mikee Tucker said Sunday's fire started at Kaitoke
Creek and understood it had been caused by a camp cooker.