Katie Holland is the Rotorua Daily Post deputy editor

Update: Large scrub fire near Reporoa to burn into night

A large scrub and grass fire south of Rotorua is expected to burn into the night, as dry conditions and winds fan the flames.

About 45 firefighters from Rotorua, Taupo and around the region - as well as three helicopters with monsoon buckets - attended the fire which broke out just before 4pm today.

The blaze also resulted in more than 500 properties being temporarily without power.

Fire Service Central-Lakes assistant area commander Hamish Smith said the fire was between the Ohaaki Power Station and the banks of the Waikato River and covered four hectares.

By 8pm the fire was contained but still burning, he said. Rural firefighters would remain at the scene overnight and the situation was to be reassessed in the morning.

He said the wind was "not our friend" - it had been up to 25 knots but had dropped to about 17 knots tonight.

Unison power customer relations officer Danny Gough said some power poles had been damaged in the fire however it appeared they had just been blackened.

He said workers had not yet been able to inspect them, but he was hopeful there would not be significant damage.

Mr Gough said power was disconnected to 560 customers in the area as a precaution, at the request of the fire service. Most properties were back on the grid by 7.30pm. The final six are expected to be reconnected tonight.

Annabell Lane said her husband was working across the river when he spotted the flames and smoke and called 111.

Mrs Lane said within half an hour the fire had grown a lot, as the wind fanned the flames.

"It spread pretty quickly."

Concerned the flames may jump the river in the "very dry" conditions, she and her husband quickly moved their stock.

Contact Energy head of communications Shaun Jones said the Ohaaki Power Station was not affected and all staff working in and around the area were quickly accounted for.

Fire crews were based at the station and station staff were supporting them in any way they could, he said.

Earlier:

A large scrub fire has broken out near the Ohaaki Power Station south of Rotorua, affecting power to 160 properties in the area.

A Fire Service spokeswoman said the blaze was burning on multiple fronts on Te Toke Rd, off Ohaaki Rd.

She said the call came in at 3.50pm. Fire crews from Rotorua, Taupo and Kinloch are the scene. Two helicopters are dropping water on the blaze.

The fire burns near the Ohaaki Power Station.  Photo/Ben Fraser
The fire burns near the Ohaaki Power Station. Photo/Ben Fraser


Unison's Danny Gough said there were reports power poles had caught fire, however due to the heavy smoke workers had been unable to get in to check the damage.

He said power had been disconnected to 160 customers in the area as a safety precaution.

As it was an "evolving situation" he did not know how long this would last and said depending on what happened with the fire more customers could potentially be affected.

PHOTO/ANNABELL LANE
PHOTO/ANNABELL LANE


Unison was working closely with the Fire Service and would be guided by their advice, he said.

Annabell Lane said her husband had been working across the river when he spotted the flames and smoke around 4pm, and called 111.

Mrs Lane said within half an hour the fire had grown large, as the wind fanned the flames.

"It spread pretty quickly."

Concerned the flames may jump the river in the "very dry" conditions, she and her husband moved stock further away.

The fire went in two different directions, she said.

She said there were some houses on Te Toke Rd.

"It must have been getting pretty close to them," she said.

Mrs Lane said the fire was still burning, however it appeared to have been brought under control.

A helicopter helps to put out the blaze.  Photo/Ben Fraser
A helicopter helps to put out the blaze. Photo/Ben Fraser

Contact Energy head of communications Shaun Jones said the Ohaaki Power Station was not affected by the fire.

He said all staff working in and around the area had been accounted for.

Fire crews were based at the station and station staff were offering support to them in any way they could, he said.

Rotorua Daily Post photographer Ben Fraser said both ends of Ohaaki Rd were blocked off to traffic.

He said the fire seemed "pretty big" and there was a lot of smoke, with the power station blanketed in it.

He said the land around the area was very dry.

PHOTO/ANNABELL LANE
PHOTO/ANNABELL LANE


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