Firefighters battle blaze after stubble burn-off spreads

Firefighters spent several hours fighting a large blaze in rural North Otago yesterday.

Crews from the Kakanui Volunteer Rural Fire Force were called to the fire in Happy Valley Rd, near the intersection with Robertsons Rd, near Kakanui, about 11.20am, and were joined a short time later by crews from the Waitaki Rural Volunteer Fire Force.

The blaze of about 21ha was sparked by a controlled stubble burn-off that started to spread when it was fanned by strong wind gusts, that sent flames leaping several metres into the air.

Two helicopters with monsoon buckets were also called in to fight the fire and remained at the scene about 4pm, while they continued to dampen down a smouldering shelter belt, a Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokeswoman said.

Flames leap skyward during a blaze at a farm near Kakanui in North Otago yesterday. Photo: Daniel BirchfieldShe said crews would also remain until they were satisfied the blaze, which was brought under control shortly before 4pm, had been fully extinguished.

Earlier, an Otago Daily Times reporter at the scene reported the fire was close to the property’s boundary of the eastern side of Robertsons Rd, and that it was being fanned by strong gusts of wind.

Large plumes of dark smoke could be seen from the Kakanui township during the blaze.

No property or infrastructure was at risk.

Three pumps and as many tankers were used to fight the fire throughout the day.