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Matakana Fire Update #6

Fire and Emergency’s specialist drone crew will be working on Matakana Island overnight, using thermal imaging to identify hotspots around the perimeter of the fireground so that firefighters will be able to target them tomorrow.

Incident Controller Jeff Maunder described the fire as "complex", with areas where fire was burning underground - for example in the root systems of large trees - as well as in the "duff layer" of partly decayed organic material on ground, and in living vegetation.

The fire is contained within a secure perimeter, but there are pockets of vegetation and tree stumps that are still smouldering and could reignite if not fully extinguished.

Firefighters will continue working until dark tonight, when two crews will take over monitoring the fireground overnight and the drone team will begin their operations. Active firefighting will resume in the morning with crews on the ground and two helicopters waterbombing. It’s likely that operations will continue until at least Wednesday.

People in Tauranga and along the coast could still expect to see and smell smoke from the fire over the next day or so, Jeff Maunder said.

He thanked Matakana locals who had dropped off baking and other supplies for the firefighters, and also the local ferry operator who had made extra trips to make sure that crews, vehicles and equipment could cross to and from the island.

"We really appreciate the support from the community. Everyone working on this fire has given up Christmas Day with their families. We’ve made sure they’ve had some Christmas treats today - they’re working hard - and it’s also good to know that the locals are right behind us."

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