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Matakana Fire Update #3

Firefighters continue to work on containing a fire on Matakana Island near Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty, with extra resources being sent to the island today.

Fire and Emergency District Commander Jeff Maunder said the immediate aim was to prevent the fire from breaking out into pine forest, and to have it contained by 9pm tonight, when the helicopters will have to stop working.

As of 1pm today, 26 firefighters and three helicopters with monsoon buckets were working to suppress the fire, while heavy machinery is being used to make firebreaks. The fire has burnt over 30 hectares of forestry and slash. Smoke is also drifting across the harbour towards Tauranga, which has prompted several people to call 111 this afternoon.

While the weather conditions have been mostly favourable for firefighting so far, the sea breeze was causing flare ups this afternoon, Commander Maunder said.

Firefighters will stay on the fireground overnight and more crews will be brought in tomorrow. An incident management team has been activated to direct operations. An investigation into the cause of the fire has also begun.

People are asked to stay away from Matakana Island, and to avoid flying drones in the area because our helicopters have to stop operating when drones are near the fireground.

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