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Ground crews working on fire

As crews work to contain a fire in inland Hawke’s Bay covering about 190 hectares the temperature is dropping, the winds are light and there is rain forecast.

The fire, set in steep hill country between Te Pohue and Puketitiri, was first reported on Monday at about 2pm.

As at 4pm this afternoon, six helicopters were continuing to pour water onto site and ground crews armed with shovels had been dropped in to attack hot spots. Those firefighters, about 20, would be pulled out at about 6pm while the helicopters would continue until 7pm.

The change in weather was “all good news”, said Hastings District Council principal rural fire officer Trevor Mitchell. The temperature had dropped from 32 degrees this morning to 22 degrees this afternoon, “and we’ve got a few spots of rain”.

It would still be a “very difficult long slow job” to get the fire fully extinguished, he said.

Crews would be on the ground for a least a week, possibly longer. “It’s burning in old man beech that’s been dead a long time.”

The ground crews were digging out the hotspots after which helicopters dropped water in.

The helicopters were taking the water from the Ripia Stream. Initially tankers were used to fill the buckets, however that had proved too slow, said Mr Mitchell.

Tomorrow the ground crews and helicopters would go back in, however the plan was to reduce the number of helicopters back to three if possible.

A fire investigator arrived in Hawke’s Bay today to start an investigation into the fire’s cause.

4 October 2017

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