Winds reignite old blaze

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Fire crews from Duntroon, Oamaru and Kakanui spent six hours extinguishing a stump and grass fire at Jardine Rd in the Waitaki Plains yesterday.

Waitaki District Council emergency services manager Chris Raine said the fire was a result of an old slash burn that appeared out, but reignited four weeks later following the strong northwesterlies, low humidity and mild temperatures in the last week.

“Embers were carried on the wind about 100m and set fire to grass and old stumps,” he said.

“The fire continued to jump and travelled another 100m through a dry water race and was travelling uphill towards a pine plantation when it was stopped by the first arriving fire service crews with hose reels from their fire appliance water tanks.”

Waitaki Rural Fire crews, called to the scene at about 8.26am yesterday, arranged for a local digger to dig a large hole so the slash burn could be wetted, dropped into the hole and reburied.

Mr Raine said landowners needed to be aware that high winds could reignite old slash burns if they were not extinguished.

“Ember travel can be significant dependent on the wind speed,” he said.

“Although some rain has fallen it has been in short sharp showers recently and no significant soaking rains have occurred since June so the vegetation is steadily drying out.”

More north-westerly gales are forecast for Thursday and Friday this week.

By Rebecca Ryan