Firefighters assist on Gt Barrier

By Cherie Taylor

Five Rotorua firefighters have been sent to Great Barrier Island to help deal with a blaze which has whipped through more than 100ha of bush.

Rotorua District deputy chief principal rural fire officer Richard Horn told The Daily Post five firefighters from Rotorua had flown to the island in the outer Hauraki Gulf yesterday to help tackle the blaze.

Lake Okareka rural principal chief fire officer Philip Muldoon and four forestry firefighters from Timberlands were among 42 firefighting personnel tackling the blaze including Department of Conservation staff, and fire crews from Auckland and Nelson, Mr Horn said.

While the blaze was now under control, the Rotorua firefighters were still needed on Great Barrier Island at least until the middle of the week, Mr Horn said.

"They are still mopping up at the moment ... they are trying to widen the firebreaks in place at the moment. They might be back on Wednesday."

Telephone communications were limited where the group was based but Mr Horn said he had spoken with Mr Muldoon on Sunday night when he was told the crew had been treated well by the locals.

"There is no phone contact. He had to go to the other side of the island to call. They have been working 10 and 12-hour days. They are really being treated well though and have had plenty of crayfish."

Meanwhile, fire crews will spend all week monitoring the island to prevent any flare-ups of the fire .

The fire was now "very well contained" but fire crews were not letting the pressure off just yet, principal rural fire officer Bryan Cartelle said.

Staff are patrolling and dampening any hot spots which showed up on a thermal imaging camera. The number of people on the ground would be reduced over the next couple of days.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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