Waitaki firefighters kept busy

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It has been a busy weekend for firefighters, with three separate fires occurring in Kurow, Omarama and Gemmell’s Crossing on Friday, to go with the 21 separate fires started as the Jessica JA1240 steam engine was making its way back to Dunedin from Oamaru on Saturday.

All three fires on Friday were quickly brought under control.

Otago Rural Fire Authority rural fire officer Eric Spittal said the fire risk remained high.

“It’s extremely high; people need to take diligence in what they are doing and not start fires.”

He said rain was desperately needed.

“Rain is really the only thing that can stop the fires from occurring and we need plenty of it, otherwise they will just continue to happen.”

The fire in Kurow was started by a mechanical problem from a power pole high up in the hills near the dam. It was not clear exactly what started the other two fires.

“All we know is that a power pole was the problem in Kurow and thankfully we managed to stop the fire relatively quickly, but it did burn some land.”

Omarama firefighters dealt with the fire in Omarama, while Duntroon, Kurow, Otematata and Waitaki firefighters were all required for the Kurow fire.

Kakanui and Weston dealt with the Gemmell’s Crossing blaze.

Mr Spittal said people needed to take extra care.

“A lot of the volunteers are having to cut short their holidays to put out fires and if people would be considerate and not do anything in an area that is going to ignite easily then they might be able to have a bit of a holiday,” he said.

With the temperature continually being up over 30 degrees fires were going to start easily so care was needed wherever people were heading.

Mr Spittal is thankful for the work of the volunteers.

“We managed to get everything under control relatively quickly thanks to the quick responses of everybody involved.

By Brayden Lindsay

PHOTO: SUPPLIED – Firefighters work on a fire in Kurow which was started by a mechanical fault in a power pole.