Old Man Range tussock fire contained

A fire burns through tussock on the hills above Fruitlands, south of Alexandra, yesterday...
A fire burns through tussock on the hills above Fruitlands, south of Alexandra, yesterday afternoon. Photo by Leith Huffadine.

A large vegetation fire on the Old Man Range in Central Otago has been contained.

Approximately 250 hectares of land was burned as gale-force winds fanned the fire before rain set in this morning, which helped to bring the fire under control.

Otago principal rural fire officer Stephanie Rotarangi said fire-fighters had been stood down and three rural fire officers remained at the scene to keep an eye on things.

"The conditions have eased significantly," she said.

No property was threatened by the fire, she said.

The cause of the fire was not known but a fire investigator was at the scene this morning.

Emergency services were alerted to the vegetation fire about 12.30pm yesterday, after it appeared near Symes Rd, above State Highway 8 in the Fruitlands area, south of Alexandra.

The fire quickly moved south along the hillside, burning on more than one front.

A plume of smoke stretched towards the Teviot Valley by mid-afternoon yesterday.

By 2pm, police had started alerting farms and dwellings in the area, but no evacuations were required.

At its peak, 18 firefighters, three appliances, a water tanker and a helicopter were at the scene.

Farm worker Selwyn Steel said it appeared the fire started on Earnscleugh Station, where he worked.

The farm had previously had problems with people using Symes Rd then accessing its private land.

''To me, it [the fire] is very suspicious because it's about where people tend to turn around their vehicles on the road.''

He was also worried about stock in the area.

''There will be cattle in that basin ... Absolutely worried about them.''

Mr Steel said he had never seen a fire in the area during his 15 years working on the station.

- additional reporting Sophie Ryan of APNZ

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