Fire and deadly day on roads stretches emergency services

It was a challenging afternoon for emergency services across Otago yesterday as they responded to two fatal crashes, two other serious car crashes and a large vegetation fire that threatened buildings.

After Southern emergency services had been stretched all day police were alerted to the single-vehicle crash on Makarora-Lake Hawea Road (SH6) about 10.20pm.

Two people died at the scene and two others were transported to Dunstan Hospital with minor and moderate injuries.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fenz) southern shift manager Daniel Reilly confirmed it attended a crash in which one person died and another was seriously injured, about 5km up Macetown Rd, just outside Arrowtown.

Due to the remoteness of the old goldmining area, two 4WD vehicles were dispatched, supported by crews from Arrowtown, Frankton and Queenstown.

As emergency services worked on that incident, a large fire broke out just off Gibbston Highway, near Queenstown.

Fire crews were stood down from the incident in Macetown Rd and sent to the fire.

Ten appliances and two fire-fighting helicopters battled the blaze, Mr Reilly said.

Two vehicles were strewn across State Highway 1 just north of Maheno, in North Otago, yesterday...
Two vehicles were strewn across State Highway 1 just north of Maheno, in North Otago, yesterday after they were hit by a train at a level crossing. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD
Meanwhile, a man was taken by ambulance to Lakes District Hospital with moderate injuries, following an incident on the Glenorchy-Queenstown Highway, near Bobs Cove, about 3pm.

Two crews from Queenstown were supported by the Glenorchy Volunteer Fire Brigade there.

The road was blocked for a short time.

A helicopter was called to the scene and landed, but was not required.

In North Otago, a 91-year-old woman was seriously injured when a train ploughed into two cars just north of Maheno.

Sergeant Tony Woodbridge, of Oamaru, said it appeared the incident happened when a southbound silver Toyota Rav4 SUV rear-ended a silver Toyota hatchback that had come to a stop at the crossing for flashing red lights and bells.

The impact shunted the hatchback forward and as a result, both vehicles were partly on the rail track.

A southbound train sounded its horn and attempted to stop, but collided with the vehicles.

The SUV was badly damaged and came to rest on its roof.

The hatchback, which was carrying two occupants, sustained minor damage.

A fire came close to the Cargo Brewery building just off Gibbston Highway yesterday. PHOTO:...
A fire came close to the Cargo Brewery building just off Gibbston Highway yesterday. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Sgt Woodbridge said fire crews from Kakanui and Oamaru attended the scene and assisted the elderly woman, the driver and sole occupant of the SUV, out of the vehicle, before she was airlifted to Dunedin Hospital about 1.15pm.

The two others injured were treated by St John at the scene.

Sgt Woodbridge said there was little the train driver, who was uninjured but left shaken, could have done to avoid the crash.

Mr Reilly acknowledged it was a busy period, especially for crews in the Wakatipu region.

"We have set procedures for maintaining cover in certain areas depending on what the current situation is."

"Today’s incidents, yes, it has been a busy day for our volunteers in the Wakatipu Basin, but at no point were we left without cover or any leeway to attend anything further.

"The timing of the Macetown Rd one and the Gibbston one meant we could release crews from the first and send them to the second."

In Queenstown, Cargo Brewery owner Malcolm Blakey said the fire came worryingly close to his brewery at Waitiri Creek.

"We are really lucky it did not spread that far and did not quite reach us. It was just metres from the brewery."

A stretch of vegetation between his property and the neighbouring one had been damaged.

Mr Blakey praised the speed at which fire crews got to the scene.

"They made sure it didn't get to us just in time."


Add a Comment