Hurunui Crew being called up to the Onamalutu fire
A rural fire crew from Hurunui is being sent to Marlborough tonight to start provide support tomorrow morning.
They will be there until Sunday night / Monday morning.
Stay safe boys – and thanks so much:
Rob Hey – Scargill VRFF (Volunteer Rural Fire Force)
Marcus White – Hawarden / Waikari VRFF
Jareth Anderson – Scargill VRFF
Glen McDougall - Motunau VRFF
Mike Anderson – Conway VRFF
The Onamalutu fire in Marlborough has not yet been brought under control and fire crews continue to concentrate on its flanks as it burns through steep country fanned by strong winds.
Two helicopters and a fixed wing aircraft have had to be diverted from the scene to a second, smaller forest fire in a nearby valley.
Marlborough Kaikoura Principal Rural Fire Officer Richard MacNamara says the main fire is not controllable at present but it does seems as if firefighters have been able to save a house that was directly threatened earlier this afternoon.
One dozen helicopters are now dumping water on the hillsides and bulldozers have been creating firebreaks but there are still sectors of fire burning out of control and the conditions are very difficult for fire crews.
The fire has extended its spread by about 20% since this morning so crews are working in an area of almost 300 hectares.
“There’s too much energy in this fire to put it out yet so we’re concentrating on saving houses and containing its flanks.”
The fire has pushed north into a small valley near Lamberts Road where the flames had moved very close to one house. However intense work by the choppers and NZFS brigade crews seem to have saved that building, he said.
But Mr. MacNamara warned that, depending on the winds, there was still potential for the fire to head north into the Onamalutu Valley.
“There’s a lot of heavy fuel out there and the fire is burning intensively in patches. We’re hitting it as hard as we can with about 45 fire fighters on the ground and the maximum number of choppers up in the air. It wouldn’t be safe to put any more up there at present.”
Crews would work until last light tonight, he said.
Four crews plus support would remain in the area overnight to monitor the fire and be on alert for any direct property damage.
The smaller fire in the Waikakaho Valley appears to have started in forestry slash – debris from tree-felling.
The NRFA national incident team will take over tomorrow with our Hurunui crew as well as rural fire and forestry crews from Marlborough, Nelson, Canterbury and the West Coast.