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Eight helicopters fighting ‘significant’ 180-hectare scrub fire near Wānaka


A fire rages near Wānaka on January 10, 2022.

Roger Foley/Supplied

A fire rages near Wānaka on January 10, 2022.

Eight helicopters are helping to fight a significant scrub fire near Wānaka, which is burning through 180 to 200 hectares of regenerating bush.

Firefighters fear a change in wind could move the fire closer to “a small number” of properties at Emerald Bluffs overnight.

Emergency services were called to the blaze off Wānaka Mount Aspiring Rd, near Glendhu Bay, about 1.30pm, a Fire and Emergency NZ (Fenz) spokesman said.

At 8.30pm, eight helicopters, 10 fire appliances and another aircraft were all helping to fight the blaze, which was not yet contained, Fenz incident controller Jason Sarich said.

One of eight helicopters battling the scrub fire in Glendhu Bay.

Cameron Wallace/Supplied

One of eight helicopters battling the scrub fire in Glendhu Bay.

Aircraft will stand down about 9.30pm, he said, and some ground crews would stay overnight to monitor the blaze.

Residents living at Emerald Bluffs have been contacted to be made aware of the situation of the blaze, Sarich said.

Fenz has liaised with police and Emergency Management Otago in case precautionary evacuations are needed, Sarich said.

A fire investigator will arrive at the scene on Monday.

As of 8.30pm on Sunday, the fire covered an area of about 180 to 200 hectares.

Roger Foley/Stuff

As of 8.30pm on Sunday, the fire covered an area of about 180 to 200 hectares.

Earlier, the fire covered an area more than two kilometres by 800 metres. At 8.30pm, Fenz said the area had grown to 180-200 hectares.

It has spread up a hillside.

Wānaka Mt Aspiring Road at Glendhu Bay is closed.

Earlier Sunday, Georgia Donaldson, a receptionist at the Glendhu Bay Motor Camp, said their campground was okay.

“The wind’s blowing in the other direction, so it’s kind of going uphill away from us,” she said.

Smoke rising in the hills behind Glendhu Bay, Wānaka. People are advised to avoid the area.

Andy Harridge/Supplied

Smoke rising in the hills behind Glendhu Bay, Wānaka. People are advised to avoid the area.

Donaldson said people could see some flames from the right spots, but the sky was mostly filled with smoke.

Roger Foley, who was at the campground, said Sunday afternoon that the fire did not seem to be getting bigger and was quite high up in the hills.

“The fire is being watched by many campers who have a ring-side view of the action,” he said.

Fenz has asked people to avoid the area and refrain from flying drones, after one was spotted earlier. It was now grounded.

“[Operating drones] is exceptionally dangerous with helicopters in the air.”



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