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Lee Valley Fire Update #3

All six helicopters fighting the Lee Valley fire have been grounded because of a drone sighted in the area. A seventh helicopter has also been stood down before it reached the fireground.

Police are actively seeking the drone operator.

Fire and Emergency Incident Controller Steve Trigg said drones were a safety risk to aerial firefighting, as a mid-air collision with a drone could have fatal consequences.

"The drone sighting has completely impacted helicopter operations. Firefighting efforts are on hold until the safety of air operations can be assured," Steve Trigg said.

The fire is burning over about 5 hectares of a pine forestry block and is not yet contained. Firefighters are unable to continue the firefight using ground attack while the helicopters are grounded because the terrain is too steep and dangerous.

Eleven houses on River Terrace between the Lee Valley Bridge over the Wairoa River and Mead Road have been evacuated by Police. Nelson-Tasman Civil Defence has opened a civil defence centre for evacuees at the Wanderers’ Clubrooms on Lord Rutherford Drive. Further information on that support is available by calling 035438400.

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