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Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is an APNZ news reporter based in Wellington.

Firefighters battle Gore 'inferno'

It took more than 90 firefighters from Invercargill, Gore, Mataura, Pukerau, Tapanui, Riversdale and Wyndham to control a fire at Livestock Supplies, in Gore. Photo / Russell Fredric via ODT
It took more than 90 firefighters from Invercargill, Gore, Mataura, Pukerau, Tapanui, Riversdale and Wyndham to control a fire at Livestock Supplies, in Gore. Photo / Russell Fredric via ODT

A huge fire that blanketed parts of Gore in dense smoke has been brought under control this morning.

More than 90 firefighters battled the blaze at Livestock Supplies, a commercial building in an industrial area on Ontario St, after the fire broke out about 6.20pm yesterday.

The fire spewed out thick, black smoke, prompting police to warn residents to stay away from the area and keep windows and doors closed.

Southland Fire area commander Bruce Stubbs said diggers were used overnight to bring down some of the building's walls and roofing in a controlled manner.

That allowed an aerial firefighting unit to work through the night in areas where it was too unsafe to send firefighters into.

Mr Stubbs said the aerial unit was due to leave shortly and only one fire crew would remain on scene.

The building was all but destroyed, he said.

"There's quite a bit of devastation here."

However, firefighters had been able to prevent the fire spreading to two adjacent buildings.

"So based on what they found on arrival - which was a well-involved, large property fire - to contain it to just the one building has been an excellent job," Mr Stubbs said.

"The prevailing wind was quite strong so it was certainly hampering our efforts, particularly when the wind was blowing towards one of the big risks we had next door, which was an LPG storage area."

Mr Stubbs said the wind made it difficult for firefighters, but had helped to dissipate the smoke.

"There was quite a lot of smoke drifting across Gore, and it was quite intense around the building itself," he said.

"We put out some precautionary advice to people across Gore to stay inside and to just keep out of smoke, because we didn't want it to cause any irritation."

People suffering smoke irritation should consult their GP or, if it was more serious, call an ambulance.

More than 90 firefighters from seven brigades across Otago and Southland battled the blaze at its height. A fire investigator would try to establish the cause of the blaze this morning.

- APNZ

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