Truly a hands-on effort

Firefighters are getting truly hands-on today in their fifth day of fighting the 5090ha blaze near Middlemarch.

Deputy principal rural fire officer for Dunedin and Clutha Jason Shrich said 35 firefighters were ''cold trailing'' around the perimeter of the fire.

That involved feeling the ground with the backs of their hands to check for warm spots.

Upon completion of cold trailing, the perimeter firefighters would move inwards.

Mr Shrich, who is stationed in the command unit at the site of the blaze, said the final extent of the fire was determined on Monday using measuring equipment from a helicopter.

He said if they could get through the windy conditions today without a flare-up they would be at the tail end of firefighting.

''Dry weather, low humidity and strong winds today will mean it would be the day for a flare-up.''

The perimeter of the fire had not expanded since Sunday, which was a good sign, he said.

''The infrared camera hasn't come across any new hot spots, but we have got hot areas which need to be worked on.''

Mr Shrich said three helicopters remained, two with monsoon buckets and one to ferry firefighters.

''I think it's a real reflection of how hard all the firefighters have been working that we have got it under control.

''They've worked tirelessly. It's a real testament to them that we've come this far.''

emma.perry@odt.co.nz

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