Shortage of water for firefighters

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The lack of rain is not only having an effect on farmers but also fire fighters who are having to battle the blazes.

Little water in the rivers and creeks is making it hard for fire trucks to fill up their tanks because many water supplies are low.

The light drizzle which hit North Otago has helped, but the drought risk is still incredibly high says Otago Rural Fire Authority rural fire officer Eric Spittal said.

“If the weather continues we will have trouble filling up our tanks and it will be a major problem filling up monsoon buckets for the helicopters.”

Despite low supplies the number of water tankers in the area is promising.

“We have four in the area one in Hampden, one in Kakanui, Weston and Waitaki, which will cover all the areas around here, while there’s one each in Kurow, Otematata and Omarama for up that way.”

After weeks of virtually dry weather and no rain at all drought predictions had become a big possibility across North Otago, and while the rain which fell on Sunday evening and Monday morning was needed it’s still nowhere near enough to ease concerns.

“It all helped which is great, but it was no where near enough to ease drought fares.”

Gorse still remains extremely flammable and likely to ignite very easily, while the forests are still a very high risk, but the rain has helped.

Mr Spittal said they will still monitor things closely over the next few weeks.

“There is a bit more rain scheduled for the area over the next 10 days or so which should help a bit, but ideally we want a good amount falling every two or three days to help drop drought concerns.”

Mr Spittal said he travelled around the region yesterday and noticed rain in most places, but nothing really substantial.

“It was falling, but it was nothing really heavy and by the time I made it to the light house in Moeraki it stopped,” he said.

While there have been fires in the region, albeit ones which were controlled quickly, the one in Twizel killed a few hectares of land.

The winds have been quiet which Mr Spittal said is a blessing.

“We just haven’t had the winds which spread the fires like nothing else so we’ve been able to handle them,” he said.

Meanwhile on Saturday there was a scrub fire in Hampden at about 5am which they deem was suspicious.

A water tanker was called for from Palmerston, but theirs is no longer usable after it was taken off the road, so Kakanui sent their tanker and fortunately the fire didn’t get out of control.

“We believe it’s suspicious and are looking further into it.”

By Brayden Lindsay

PHOTO: SUPPLIED – Trevor Lockerbie, of the Hampden Rural Fire Unit, takes a break after fighting a suspicious scrub fire in Nottingham St in Hampden on Saturday morning.