Riverside track clearing provides fuel for fires

Alexandra Deputy Chief Fire Officer Mark Hutton surveys the remains of  fires along the Alexandra...
Alexandra Deputy Chief Fire Officer Mark Hutton surveys the remains of fires along the Alexandra River Walk. Photo: Tom Kitchin
Trees blocking the Alexandra River Walk beside the Clutha River have been cleared but the  remnants of fires  that occurred during the district’s total fire ban this summer remain along the track.

After the Otago Daily Times published a story about trees blocking the track on December 23, representatives of the Alexandra Clyde and Districts Business Group cleared the track between Christmas and New Year.

Alexandra resident Bruce Davidson,  who leads the track’s maintenance team, said volunteers cleared the track without contractors, mainly using chainsaws.

The volunteers left most of the tree branches  for residents to come and pick up as firewood.

"It’s given others an opportunity to take a bit of material away for firewood and what have you. The bigger limbs, we just stack them pretty tidily on the track and then people come along, trim them up for firewood and take them away."

But during the holiday season, firefighters were called to two fires on the track.

It was likely that branches and logs from the trees were used to fuel  the fires.

Alexandra Deputy Chief Fire Officer Mark Hutton said the first  call came just after 9pm. 

On Christmas Eve A track walker called the fire brigade  about an unattended fire that still had live embers, so it could have sparked a bigger fire. The second fire was a small bonfire on December 28, reported at 7.54am.  Burnt branches were still lying across the track on Thursday.

Mr Davidson said he had seen two or three "quite big piles of debris" along the track.

"Those piles have been reduced and diminished down to not much at all. What we will do is, over the winter months, stockpile any debris and have controlled fires down there."

Anyone  walking on  the Alexandra River Walk who is  concerned about the state of the track can ring Mr Davidson  on 0274 719 083. The Alexandra River Walk winds north 2.6km to the Ngapara Pools  along the true left (Alexandra side) bank of the Clutha, starting just north  of the boat ramp and Central Otago District Council chambers.


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