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Rural fire outside Christchurch

10 January 2005

Rural fire outside Christchurch

Rural Fire crews dealing with a large forestry fire in north-east Christchurch will today push further into the burned area, says Principal Rural Fire Officer Keith Marshall.

Yesterday about 40 rural firefighters, supported by Fire Service appliances, damped down a 20m-30m ring around the outside of the approximately 30ha (note: yesterday's estimate of burnt area was up to 40ha. Today's figure is correct after aerial photography of the fire area was overlayed on maps) area of the fire.

"The forecast's for stronger nor'-west winds tomorrow and that increases the chance of it flaring up again and breaking out," Mr Marshall says, "so today the crews will be moving further into the area and we'll also be widening existing fire breaks and cutting new ones to lower the liklihood of it being able to get into the surrounding forest."

The Fire Service has an appliance on the banks of the Styx River on Lower Styx Road west of the fire and is pumping water across the road and about 1.5km in to the ground crews. Vehicles using this road are being controlled on a single-lane low-speed crossing over the hose. This operation will continue at least until this evening.

Precautionary work means heavy and dangerous equipment is being used today in unburned areas surrounding the burnt area. A tree-felling gang will be working with a skidder along forest roads nearby, dropping trees alongside the roads and removing them to ensure there is a good gap between blocks of trees. And in forestry south of the fire a bulldozer will be making a new east-west fire break. Inside the burnt area, diggers and tree fellers will be knocking over large pines which have been damaged by fire to make the area safe for the fire crews coming in behind them.

Because of this activity and the regular movement of tankers ferrying water in to the crews, Mr Marshall says people are still being asked to stay out of the northern half of Bottle Lake Forest Park, between Spencer Park and about the east-west line of 15th Avenue. It means the tracks in from Spencer Park are off-limits, but many of the tracks running from the main Bottle Lake Entrance on Waitikiri Road are available for use.

"We understand that the forest's a very popular area for recreation and I want to thank people who'd normally be using this northern end of the forest who are staying away and letting us get on with it," he says."We really have to have a good effort today and tonight before the nor'-wester kicks in again tomorrow."

A single crew will continue to monitor the area of another fire which began on Sunday, east of Main North Road at about Cheneys Corner and another crew will this morning do a check of the area of last weekend's fire at the south-east corner of Bottle Lake Forest Park.

The New Brighton Police are still keen to talk to anyone who was in the forest area near the beach south of Spencer Park from around mid-afternoon on Sunday, 8 January.


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