Firefighters work to contain forest blaze

Firefighters, Department of Conservation (DOC) staff and volunteers are working to ensure a fire in Northland doesn't spread.

The fire, near the Waipoua kauri forest on Northland's west coast, was largely contained yesterday but not before destroying an estimated 230 hectares of vegetation.

DOC spokeswoman Sue Campbell said a large area of young pines in a Crown forestry block had been destroyed, along with DOC-managed wetland and dune-land.

She said some of the burned area was home to several native bird species including kiwi, fernbirds and bittens.

There were fears that as many as 20 young kiwi may have been killed in the fire.

The fire was also close to historic, giant kauri trees.

"We were really concerned about those earlier on, but as long as the fire is contained where it is it shouldn't be a threat," Ms Campbell said.

She said although the fire was being contained there were still plenty of hot spots and a lot of smoke.

Rain this morning had brought temporary relief for those dampening down hot spots, but the weather had since turned warm and windy.

Ms Campbell said initial investigations suggested the fire originated from a campfire, and if that were the case, the perpetrators had ignored a total fire ban.

"We're interested in anyone that might have information about that," she said.

- NZPA

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