Southland chopper company helps tackle gorse blaze

It was a case of right place, right time for a Southland helicopter company, its crews helping firefighters tackle a large gorse fire near Ryal Bush this afternoon.

Their assistance also helped an Invercargill fire crew, who were delayed after arriving at the scene of a car crash in the city while en route to the blaze.

A Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokesman said crews were called to the incident on the roadside of Makarewa-Browns Rd about 4pm.

Crews from Invercargill, Wallacetown and Hedgehope battled the 200m by 20m blaze, along with two aircraft from Southland Helicopters, which has its Tussock Creek base on the adjoining property to the fire.

The blaze was confined to gorse and no property was threatened.

An Invercargill crew came across the crash outside Countdown Waikiwi on North Rd about six minutes after the initial fire call to Ryal Bush, the spokesman said.

One vehicle rolled on its side and another on its roof in the collision.

The sole occupants of each vehicle were uninjured, and there was little for the fire crew to do except "a bit of clean-up'' before a relief crew arrived and they continued on to the gorse fire, the spokesman said.

Fire and Emergency NZ shift manager Alex Norris said by 8.20pm the blaze had been contained, and the operation scaled back with one  helicopter still in use.

At its height, 40 firefighters were battling the blaze.



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