Mackenzie wildfire: Chopper called in ahead of strong winds


A helicopter will look for hotspots in a 100-hectare wildfire in the Mackenzie district this morning, before strong winds are expected to arrive.

A thermal imaging camera in the helicopter will help detect areas that could reignite the large blaze.

Five helicopter crews and 50 firefighters contained the fire near Burke's Pass - about 30km east of Tekapo - on Friday.

But the fire continues to smoulder in a mix of scrub and tussock, forestry and farmland.

Mackenzie Emergency Operations Centre spokesperson Chris Clarke said there was a temporary speed limit on State Highway 8 from Fairlie to Tekapo because of the blaze.

"We're asking people to be very careful when they're passing through the area," Clarke said.

"It's a busy time of year for overseas visitors and domestic tourists. With unfamiliar roads and a bit of smoke, we don't want any other situations arising."

Crews were first called to the fire shortly before 4am on Friday.

Clarke said neighbouring district councils and the Department of Conservation had pitched in to help fight the fire.

"It's a huge team effort and we're very grateful to the personnel involved," he said.

However, firefighters could not stop the blaze killing an unknown number of sheep penned up in a shed for shearing.

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