Big turnout of brigades to fight blaze on farm

High winds created problems for firefighters called to a fire on a farm between Luggate and Tarras yesterday morning.

A fire in piles of rubbish from a cleared pine forest spread rapidly across a large paddock, fanned by wind gusts of between 45kmh and 63kmh.

The wind, combined with a 21degC air temperature and a low 34% humidity level, meant firefighters were unable to prevent the fire from spreading into part of a pine plantation on the terrace above the paddock.

At the height of the fire, about a dozen fire appliances and tankers from the Luggate, Tarras, Wanaka and Cromwell volunteer fire brigades and the Tarras and Dunstan rural fire forces attended.

Two helicopters carrying monsoon buckets were also called in to dampen down the blaze.

Central Otago principal rural fire officer Owen Burgess, of Alexandra, told the Otago Daily Times the cause of the fire was not known but would be investigated.

He said people should not be burning under the present weather conditions and noted the strong winds had been forecast.

"You would be a fool [to burn] in this weather," he said.

The pine tree branches which went on fire yesterday have been heaped up into dozens of piles on the Jolly Rd property over the last few months.

Farm owner Denis Nyhon was too busy to talk when contacted by the ODT yesterday.

• A dead poplar tree on Faulks Rd, Wanaka, was blown over in high winds yesterday morning.

Queenstown Lakes District Council transport services engineer David Knowles said the tree was only partly on the road and was cleared away by council contractors within about 20 minutes.

mark.price@odt.co.nz