Firefighters attend a scrub fire near Herbert on Saturday.
Photo by Andrew Ashton.
A freight train seen ''belching flames'' along the
railway line in North Otago was the cause of four scrub fires
on Saturday morning, including one just a few hundred metres
from heavy forest near Herbert.
Waitaki principal rural fire officer Steve Couper said fires
were reported near Herbert, at Moeraki and near Palmerston,
Two appliances each from fire stations at Palmerston, Weston,
Kakanui and Hampden attended the fires and it took about an
hour and a-half to quell the flames.
Mr Couper said the fires had all taken place in rail
''It looks like there has been a problem with a train and it
has set fire to undergrowth.''
A helicopter had carried out aerial reconnaissance to ensure
there were no unreported fires, he said.
A KiwiRail spokeswoman confirmed the fire was caused by
sparks coming from a southbound freight train on its way to
Dunedin, after the brakes jammed on one of its locomotives.
The train driver stopped in Palmerston and continued to
Dunedin powered by the train's other locomotives, after
leaving behind the faulty one.
A KiwiRail serviceman would travel to Palmerston to repair
the locomotive today, she said.
A Herbert resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said he
had seen flames coming from the undercarriage of a freight
train before two fires started, near Bluff Hill Rd and Frame
''The third engine was belching flame.
''The fire was at the bottom. It looked like it was diesel, I
would have thought. It had quite a good flame on.''