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Rain overnight help fight Chatham Islands wildfire

Rain overnight is helping firefighters trying to put out a large wildfire on the Chatham Islands.


Images taken from a Royal New Zealand C-130 of a bush fire on the Chatham Islands. The images were taken in order to inform New Zealand Fire And Emergency of what will be required to subdue the blaze. Photo: Supplied / New Zealand Defence Force

The fire - south of Waitangi Wharf - started on Thursday and has burnt through more than 2000 hectares.

Nineteen homes along Waitangi Wharf Owhenga Road were evacuated overnight as a precaution but residents were allowed to return home this morning.

Principal Rural Fire Officer Craig Cottrill said there were fears that strong southerly winds forecast for last night would blow the fire dangerously close to homes.

But the wind brought rain with it, slowing the fire and making it harder for it to spread.

"The situation today is a lot better because of the rain but we still have a substantive job ahead of us."

Crews were focusing on creating fire breaks, he said.


A Royal New Zealand C-130 took a number of pictures of the bush fire to provide New Zealand Fire and Emergency with information about what would be required to subdue the blaze. Photo: Supplied / New Zealand Defence Force

Mr Cottrill said two teams of five specialist rural firefighters, and four incident managers, were on their way to the Chathams.

They would take fuel, equipment and supplies for a two-week deployment.

Two helicopters with monsoon bucket capacity were also set to arrive on the island early in the afternoon.

"The Chatham Islands is 600 kilometres from Wellington so anything we need to get out there takes time. It's not like fighting a fire on the mainland," Mr Cottrill said.

Chatham Islands is an archipelago in the Pacific. About 600 people live on two of the 10 islands that make up the Chathams and rely on conservation, tourism, farming and fishing.

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