Southland farm blaze treated as suspicious

Rural firefighters are only just coming out of a Nightcaps farm after battling a suspicious blaze for nearly 24 hours.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand [Fenz] were first alerted to what started as a small grass fire about 12.20pm yesterday.

It was on an 11-hectare farm block near Sinclair Ave, Opio on State Highway 96, about 6km from Nightcaps.

Just a few hours later, eight fire appliances from across Southland and three helicopters were on-scene attempting to stop the spread of the fire to a nearby forestry block.

Fenz communications shift manager Alex Norris said volunteer fire brigades from Nightcaps, Mossburn, Drummond, Athol and Blackmount were dispatched in groups throughout the day to assist.

This morning, Invercargill fire investigator Murray Milne-Maresca was called in to determine the cause, which was being treated as suspicious.

"If it wasn’t for the incredibly good work from the Nightcaps crew who were there first, it would’ve been a totally different story.

"We were very lucky to only have slight wind."

Crews had worked through the night, tending to hotspots and ensuring there was no risk of another flare-up.

Forestry crews were only just coming out of the property after midday.

Mr Milne-Maresca was confident he would know what caused the fire by the end of today.

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