A large vegetation fire west of Bulls is still burning as nine rural fire appliances, two water tankers, a command unit, support vehicle and two helicopters are continuing to fight the blaze.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) was called around 3.50pm on Saturday, February 8, to the fire near Santoft between Pukepapa Rd extension and Brandon Hall Rd.

A FENZ spokesman said the fire is deemed contained but is still active.

Approximately 80 hectares of scrub and forestry has been burnt.


The sheer size of the fire left residents and those travelling through the area shocked as the haze of yellow smoke could be seen as far as the Manawatu Gorge, Woodville.

The spokesman said there is no longer a threat to any nearby buildings.

Initially, the fire was threatening to reach Santoft Forest and Farmland Foods.

"Last night when we had the initial fire there was a threat to commercial premises but the fire has since changed direction and the work the firefighters did last night has stopped that."

Rangitikei Rural Fire said on a Facebook post that crews from all over the Manawatu, Rangitikei and Whanganui had been fighting the fire.

The post also lauded a group of local farmers and contractors who helped the fire crew build fire breaks: "We volunteer to do this, you don't, that's [heroes] right there," the post read.

Wayne Hosking, production manager for Waitatapia station was one of four men who not only built a few fire breaks but carted water into fire crews from nearby dams or ponds.

He said not long after they started to see smoke the fire brigade called his boss Hew Dalrymple who then rang around to his men and from there they got to work.


"It's a bit of a hot spot up there for fires, every few years there seems to be a fire up there.

"We've done it a few times, grab the tanker and the discs and a digger or a bulldozer and away you go and then it's just a case of finding some water."

Hosking said they use the discs to overturn the ground to create long rows to stop the fire from burning past so it cannot move out of the area it is contained in.

The men spent around four hours yesterday helping fire crews and Hosking returned on Sunday morning to cart some more water in for the appliances.

Fire crews monitored the fire overnight but the spokesman said they did not attempt to fight the fire in the dark as it was too dangerous due to the terrain it was in.

Around 7.30 am on Sunday morning, ground and aerial operations resumed.

The spokesman said numerous crews have investigated a number of flare ups and if they to grow bigger they will begin fire fighting otherwise they will contain the area and let it burn out.

"It's going to be a long duration, maybe a day or two, maybe even longer its a very long-winded process."

The spokesman said the fire is currently in a much better condition compared to Saturday evening.

People are reminded to stay away from the area so firefighters can continue to manage the fire.