Hard work not yet over for firefighters

Turning over smouldering ground to prevent the fire from reigniting at the Te Papanui...
Turning over smouldering ground to prevent the fire from reigniting at the Te Papanui Conservation Park is Johnson Forestry silviculture worker Thijs Aisi. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIREY
With the fire risk set to increase again today, crews at the scene of the weekend's blaze in the Lammerlaw ranges near Middlemarch will continue this morning to work on extinguishing the last remaining hot spots.

More than 90 firefighters worked on the ground at the scene yesterday, as an investigation into the cause of the 4664ha blaze began.

Deputy principal rural fire officer for Dunedin and Clutha Jason Shrich, who was directing crews at the scene yesterday, said he was confident the efforts of people on the ground and helicopters would put the fire out.

One helicopter carried an infrared camera that live-streamed information back to the command centre, where crews and other helicopters were sent out to tackle hot spots.

However, the risk of fire would increase today, with lowered humidity and higher temperatures compared to yesterday.

"We're taking every precaution and getting as many of the hot spots tackled [yesterday] as we can.''

People on the ground included volunteer firefighters from around the region and further north, and forestry workers who had been sent by their companies to help out.

Otago district principal rural firefighter Graeme Still said four hot spots on the western edge of the fire, and one on the eastern, had been picked up.

A crew remained at the scene overnight, about 50 people were expected to return this morning, and crews would remain there indefinitely, he said.

"I can't put a timeframe on how long we will be there - however long it takes for us to be confident it won't start up again.''



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