'It could’ve been something major': Waimate fire contained

Helicopters from Heliventures NZ and Central South Island Helicopters work to extinguish a fire near Waimate on Sunday night. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Helicopters from Heliventures NZ and Central South Island Helicopters work to extinguish a fire near Waimate on Sunday night. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Fire crews acted fast to contain a blaze between two pine plantations near Waimate on Sunday night.

Waimate Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Steve Pali said the scrub fire broke out at a property in Parkers Bush Rd just before 6pm and was ‘‘fair going’’ when the first firefighters and helicopter arrived at the scene.

Fire crews from Glenavy, Saint Andrews, Timaru and Waihaorunga helped the Waimate brigade fight the fire from the ground, while four helicopters tackled it from the air.

While the fire only spread to the size of a football field, firefighters and helicopter pilots had to ‘‘really act fast’’ to contain it so it did not spread to nearby pine plantations, Mr Pali said.

‘‘It could’ve been something major, had we not gone in and got [it out] quick,’’ he said.

The steep terrain and ''quite dense'' bush had made it difficult for ground crews to get to the fire.

‘‘We would not have done it without the helicopters with the terrain it was in.’’

It is believed to have been sparked by a fallen power line. Power was cut to residents in the Arno, Waihao Forks and Waihaorunga area for about two and a-half hours on Sunday night.

The last fire crew left the scene at about 10pm on Sunday night, and Fire and Emergency New Zealand staff returned to check on it today.

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