Power still out after huge blaze

An aerial view of the blaze. Photo Jimmy Sygrove
An aerial view of the blaze. Photo Jimmy Sygrove
More than 300 consumers face up to 48 hours without power as crews continue to battle a huge scrub fire on the Glenorchy road near Queenstown.

The fire at Rat Point, which cut power to Glenorchy and affected access to the Queenstown-Glenorchy Road, has been contained after a co-ordinated and sustained aerial and ground attack by fire crews today.

Helicopters and fire crews from throughout Otago have been battling the 150ha blaze, which began about 11.30pm on Tuesday.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council said a ground crew would patrol the area overnight, and crews would be deployed tomorrow to extinguish the fire and ensure that hotspots are monitored and dampened down.

The road reopened for the second time about 5pm, after a flare-up prompted a closure following an initial reopening earlier this afternoon.

Aurora Energy has advised that the 335 customers affected in the Glenorchy, Kinloch, Moke Lake, Paradise and Routeburn areas can expect to be without power for at least 24 hours, with the possibility of this extending to 48 hours or longer.

Delta has begun work on the power poles which received extensive damage in the fire, and are also assessing longer term contingency measures.

Otago Rural Fire Authority Incident Controller Phil Marsh said it had been a testing day contending with steep terrain, high temperatures and strong winds, but all the crews, pilots and members of the incident management team had done a superb job in restricting the fire from spreading.

“Emergency services in this region are predominantly staffed with volunteers so we thank both those people and their organisations for being so supportive.

“We’re very grateful to everyone for their efforts and to the public for the support that we’ve received.   The changeable weather conditions meant that we had to close the Queenstown-Glenorchy Road a couple of times to ensure public safety so we appreciate people’s patience.”

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