Landowner could do little about fire

The Meyers Pass property in the Hakataramea Valley where the fire started. Photo: NZ Police
The Meyers Pass property in the Hakataramea Valley where the fire started. Photo: NZ Police
A Hakataramea landowner who watched more than 300ha of his land burn last week says there was little he could do to contain the growing inferno.

The vegetation fire at the Meyers Pass property in the Hakataramea Valley on Thursday scorched about 350ha of tussock, scrub and grassland, most of which was owned by farmer Hamish Elliot.

Firefighters and two helicopters were called in to help fight the fire, after a controlled burn-off got out of control about 2.40pm.

Mr Elliot said once the fire spread, fanned by strong winds, he knew there was nothing he could do to control it.

''Basically, I had 95% of the face that I was burning in the controlled area all burnt, the last little bit there as it came down to the three gullies that all meet.

The wind was fair swirling ... it sort of picked up and took it across the track that had been dozed and once it got on to the sunny face, it all happened very quickly. We had everything in place ... the wind can get a bit nasty and that's what it did. There was nothing I could do myself.''

He said Meyers Pass Rd acted as a firebreak, which helped contain the blaze, as did a nearby creek.

The land will now be ''retired'' before being re-seeded in six to eight weeks, which Mr Elliot said would help the regeneration process that he expected to pan out ''quite well'', given the landscape.

While no structures were damaged, some boundary fencing was destroyed.

He praised the efforts of fire and helicopter crews, and farmers in the valley who helped contain the fire, which was mostly brought under control on Thursday night.

Nine fire appliances from Timaru, Waimate, Cave, Kurow, Otematata, Waihaorunga and Glenavy attended, including tankers, pumps and a command unit.

Meyers Pass links the Hakataramea Valley and the Waimate area.

daniel.birchfield@odt.co.nz

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