Wanaka Sun       

Hawea fire update: Helicopters stood down

Posted at 9:11pm Friday 02 Nov, 2018 | By Ruth Blunt editor@thewanakasun.co.nz

 

Update 10.30pm

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) crews will continue to patrol and monitor the site of a fire tonight, with four FENZ crews with two tankers remaining on-site until about 11pm to continue protecting structures, extinguishing hotspots and monitoring any flare ups. The crews are laying A foam-protected layer is being applied around nearby properties as a precaution.

Police have reopened State Highway 6 (SH6) between Lake Hawea and Wanaka. New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA) has stop-go in operation on a short one-lane stretch of SH6 between Lake Hawea Holiday Camp and Capell Avenue – the access road to Lake Hawea township.

Residents who were earlier evacuated from six households will remain away from their homes tonight.

One FENZ crew will remain on standby overnight. It is anticipated that they will be relieved by three FENZ crews and two helicopters at around 7am tomorrow.

Firefighters have fire under control (9pm)

Five helicopters, using monsoon buckets to control the fire blazing at Lake Hawea tonight, have been stood down as they cannot operate in darkness. Five Fire & Emergency NZ (FENZ) crews from Hawea, Wanaka, Luggate, Tarras and Dunstan are tackling the blaze on the ground.

Emergency services from New Zealand Police and Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) have been fighting the forest fire which began in pine trees near Lake Hawea since around 5.20pm today.

About 10 people living close to the affected area have been evacuated from their homes. Police have closed State Highway 6 in both directions, to the south of Lake Hawea at the junction of Camphill Road and to the north just beyond the Lake Hawea Holiday Camp.

Central Otago deputy principal rural fire officer Bobby Lamont said there are no reports of any injuries or damage to structures or infrastructure at this stage.

“All local residents were evacuated at an early stage. Our priorities are containing the fire and protecting structures. At this stage we have everything under control quite nicely,” he said.

Around 5-10ha of pine forest are currently affected on the slopes of Mount Maude to the south-west of Lake Hawea township. The exact starting point and cause of the fire are not yet known.

The Met Service issued strong wind watch for Central Otago tonight, with northwest winds which may approach severe gale at times.

There is currently no road access to Lake Hawea township from the north. Vehicles are being diverted from the south via Hawea Flat and Kane Road. Travellers between the West Coast and Wanaka should plan for significant delays until the fire is under control. Anyone travelling east from Haast should remain at Makarora, where there are facilities, until further notice. Travellers heading west from Wanaka should remain in Wanaka. There are limited facilities for people already in Hawea at the Lake Hawea Community Centre.

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