Helicopters fighting manuka scrub fire in Hawke's Bay

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Smoke from a grass fire is obscuring the sky in Patoka and drifting into other nearby areas. PHOTO/FILE
Smoke from a grass fire is obscuring the sky in Patoka and drifting into other nearby areas. PHOTO/FILE

Five helicopters are still battling a blaze which is now covering 100ha of manuka scrub land and beech forest between Te Pohue and Puketitiri.

The Hastings Rural Fire Authority are in control of the fire and have been at the scene along with Bay Forest, Department of Conservation and the New Zealand Fire Service since about 2pm.

Hastings District Council principal rural fire officer Trevor Mitchell said the fire was in an inaccessible area so helicopters had to be used to extinguish the fire.

"Crews are at the scene with tankers filling up the buckets for the helicopters."

Due to the legal use of helicopters in the dark the latest they can run to is about 8pm tonight.

Mr Mitchell said with the dew overnight and the drop in winds the fire should quieten down during that period where it will be unattended.

"Tomorrow morning we will get crews dropped by helicopter on to the ground to fight the fire at about 6:30am."

The team already present today will be joined by three more DOC teams and two rural fire crews from Manawatu.

"We are not concerned about it spreading to much overnight and are comfortable with the plan in place," Mr Mitchell said.

He also said there was still no danger or risk to any properties.

Chris Crosse who runs East Kaweka Helicopters saw the smoke while flying in and out of the Kaweka Forest Park earlier today.

He said within 20 minutes the smoke went from being barely visible to inferno.

"Its about 2km up the Ripia River and with the snow fall back in August a lot of branches and wood are broken up on the bush ground only exaggerating the fire."

Meanwhile a resident who lives on Hawkston Rd in Patoka said the smell of smoke was potent and she saw the helicopters and fire engine go past her house.

"It is very foggy around us at the moment and the ground is exceptionally dry," she said earlier today.

Mr Mitchell said they are not sure what started the fire at this stage.

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