Emergency services tackling blaze near Lake Hawea
Emergency services from New Zealand Police and Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) are tackling a fire in pine trees near Lake Hawea which began around 5.20pm today. The fire has closed State Highway 6 and caused the evacuation of approximately ten people living close to the affected area.
Bobby Lamont, Deputy Principal Rural Fire Officer for Central Otago said there are no reports of any injuries or damage to structures or infrastructure at this stage.
“All local residents were evacuated at an early stage. Our priorities are containing the fire and protecting structures. At this stage we have everything under control quite nicely,” he said.
Around 5-10ha of pine forest are currently affected on the slopes of Mount Maude to the south-west of Lake Hawea township. The exact starting point and cause of the fire are not yet known.
Five helicopters used monsoon buckets to control the fire and have now stood down as they cannot operate in darkness. Five Fire & Emergency NZ (FENZ) crews from Hawea, Wanaka, Luggate, Tarras and Dunstan are tackling the blaze on the ground.
The forecast until midnight is for strong north to north-west winds around 40-60km/h, gusting up to 90km/h. It is expected to remain mainly dry with some light rain.
Police have closed State Highway 6 in both directions, to the south of Lake Hawea at the junction of Camphill Road and to the north just beyond the Lake Hawea Holiday Camp. There is currently no road access to Lake Hawea township from the north. Vehicles are being diverted from the south via Hawea Flat and Kane Road.
Travellers between the West Coast and Wanaka should plan for significant delays until the fire is under control. Anyone travelling east from Haast should remain at Makarora, where there are facilities, until further notice. Travellers heading west from Wanaka should remain in Wanaka. There are limited facilities for people already in Hawea at the Lake Hawea Community Centre.
A further update is expected around 9.30pm.