Warning about outdoor cooking following fire at Glendhu Bluffs

Looking east towards Emerald Bay, Glendhu Bay, Roys Peninsula and Wanaka township from above the...
Looking east towards Emerald Bay, Glendhu Bay, Roys Peninsula and Wanaka township from above the Glendhu Bluff fire site at Lake Wanaka. PHOTO: MARJORIE COOK

Police in Wanaka are cautioning people to be careful with their cooking equipment outdoors after a large blaze destroyed a Department of Conservation reserve at Glendhu Bluffs on Sunday.

An investigation by Fire and Emergency New Zealand was not complete but Senior Constable Bruce McLean wrote in Wanaka’s Crimeline newsletter police knew the cause of the blaze.

"As most people are well aware there was a large fire in the Glendhu Bay area. We know the cause of the fire. Make sure you are careful cooking and use no naked flames or smoking in the outdoors where the ground is tinder dry.

"A fire doesn’t take much to start and gets out of control very quickly," Snr Const McLean said.

A fire investigator has visited the site and Fenz incident controller Jason Sarich, of Dunedin, said it could be at least a week before the investigation was completed.

Mr Sarich said the fire had not spread on Monday night and four crews of firefighters focused on dampening down hot spots identified by thermal imaging yesterday.

The hot spots are all within the 7.1km perimeter of the containment area.

Fenz media spokeswoman Sally Chesterfield said no charges had been laid in relation to the fire investigation.

An investigator was still working on site yesterday.

It was important to rule everything in and to rule everything out before a decision was made and it would be next week before a cause was known and it was important to let Fenz get on with the job, she said.

A police media spokesman confirmed the fire investigation was not a police matter at this time.

"Fire and Emergency are conducting an investigation into the fire — which would need to be completed before police would potentially be involved, if at all,'' the spokesman said.

Sergeant Kim Chirnside, of Wanaka, confirmed police had received information about how the fire started but referred the Otago Daily Times to Fenz and police media teams for more information.

Road access past the fire zone in Wanaka-Mt Aspiring Rd would be controlled for the rest of the week.

There are concerns the fire could flare up during an ongoing period of hot, dry weather.

Fenz moved the Otago District Lakes Zone into a restricted fire season yesterday which included the land surrounding Lake Wakatipu, the Nevis Valley and the land west and north of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea.

Otago district manager Phil Marsh said a permit was now required to light a fire in open air in those areas.

Forecast weather conditions also meant the overall fire danger was increasing rapidly over the course of this week, he said.

"The fire danger in scrub is extreme despite moderate fire danger elsewhere.

"We have seen this recently during a significant fire at Emerald Bay [Glendhu Bluffs], near Wanaka," he said.

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