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Forest fire near Lake Hawea ‘contained’

Forest fire near Lake Hawea ‘contained’ as emergency services continue to patrol and monitor affected area

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) is continuing to patrol and monitor the site of a fire in pine trees near Lake Hawea.

Mark Mawhinney, Deputy Principal Rural Fire Officer for Central Otago, said four ground crews are working with hoses and hand tools to mop up and contain spot fires in approximately 5ha of forest on the slopes of Mount Maude to the south-west of Lake Hawea township

“The fire is not spreading at this stage. Given the strength of the wind and the fact that the fire didn’t spread overnight we’re comfortable with the current situation. We don’t foresee any further risk to structures or property,” he said.

FENZ is working closely with residents of six affected households to enable them to return to their homes and collect belongings this morning. It is anticipated that they will be able to return permanently later today.

State Highway 6 (SH6) between Lake Hawea and Wanaka is currently open. FENZ crews have notified New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) about some rock falls in the affected area. Drivers are urged to use caution when passing Lake Hawea Holiday Park and Capell Avenue, the main access road to Lake Hawea township.

No helicopters are operating at present but remain on stand-by should they be required.

Mr Mawhinney said emergency services would continue to monitor the affected area for at least the next two days.

“I would like to thank all agencies, contractors and individuals involved with what appears to have been a very successful operation. The patience and support of the local community, especially the management and staff of the Lake Hawea Hotel, has been very much appreciated, ” he said.

A fire investigator is currently on site looking into the cause and exact starting point of the fire. FENZ is requesting that members of the public with any photographs or video of the fire in its early stages email material to help with the ongoing investigation. Anyone with such material should email it to Mark Mawhinney at mark.mawhinney@fireandemergency.nz.

Approximately ten residents were evacuated at an early stage after the fire began around 5.20pm yesterday. They stayed overnight with family and friends or in accommodation in Wanaka.

Those involved in the operation include New Zealand Police, Department of Conservation, Otago Civil Defence and Emergency Management, New Zealand Transport Agency, Queenstown Lakes District Council and FENZ crews from Lake Hawea, Wanaka, Makarora, Luggate, Tarras, Dunstan, Blackstone (Omakau) and Glenorchy.

No further media update is scheduled at this stage.

ENDS

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