Helicopters at Far North fire

By Peter de Graaf


Firefighters are starting to mop up a serious fire on the Karikari Peninsula which had threatened to turn into a repeat of the devastating November 2011 blaze in the same area which claimed two lives and several houses.

This morning's fire, however, was limited to about 3ha of pine forest after fire bosses threw everything they had at it as soon as the alarm was raised about 5.40am this morning.

Fire Service volunteer support officer Colin Kitchen said the fire was in an area recently logged by forest leaseholders Juken Nissho near Maitai Bay.

The initial response included two fire appliance from the Karikari rural fire party, a fire truck and a tanker from Mangonui, and one appliance each from Rangiputa and Kaitaia, backed up by two helicopters using monsoon buckets.

By 8am the fire had been contained and a digger was starting to clear the perimeter. Eight rural appliances, one chopper and 25 forestry workers were working to extinguish the fire.

Mr Kitchen said it would be a long, hot day of mopping up.

It was fortunate the fire had started in the cool of the early morning rather than the full heat of the afternoon.

Fire investigators were on their way to the scene  and it was too early to say what had started the blaze. Forestry crews had been working in the area, Mr Kitchen said.

Maori land at the northeastern tip of the Karikari Peninsula was plagued by a series of deliberately lit fires in 2010-11, culminating in a November 2011 blaze which destroyed a number of homes and baches and claimed the lives of chopper pilot John ``Prickles'' de Ridder and DoC ranger William Macrae.

The pair were searching for five people trapped between the flames and the sea when their helicopter crashed into Karikari Bay.


8am: Crews are working to contain a large scrub fire in the far north.

Three helicopters with monsoon buckets are working on the blaze that started at 5.45am in bush on Matai Bay Rd, Karikari Peninsula.

Ground crews are also trying to get access to the fire, said Fire Service northern communications shift manager Jarron Philips.

The cause is unknown.


- Northern Advocate

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