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Local helicopters remain on standby

Four local helicopters remain on standby to fight fires in Hastings, while those from out of the region are being returned to their home bases at the end of today.

“This does not mean we are out of danger but we are at a stage where ground crews are the best option, with the local helicopters used to assist,” said National Rural Fire Authority incident controller John Sutton.

If conditions changed, helicopters from out of the area could be back on site in about 30 minutes, he said.

Seven ground crews were at the Waimarama fire site battling hot spots today, with another crew working on the Colin White Rd fire. NZ Army fire crews will be at the Waimarama site overnight.

Out of region ground crews will also start to be stood down tonight, although the specialised forestry firefighting crews will be kept on until at least the end of the week. All of the Hawke’s Bay crews will continue to work shifts at the fire sites until the danger is past.

“It has been excellent to have the help of crews from across the North Island however we are not the only region in this situation and we are now well able to manage the risks with our own resources,” said Mr Sutton.

Until all hotspots are dealt with it is important that people in areas close to the fires remain prepared to react if conditions changed, said Hastings District Council local incident controller Alison Banks.

“The scaling back of resources does not mean the danger has passed; it means that we have the resources locally to manage the fires at the stage they are at.”

The area is still very dry and under a complete fire ban, which means no outdoor fires including hangi, solid fuel barbecues and fireworks. Extra care has to be taken with any outdoor activity that could cause a spark; things like chain sawing, lawn mowing and welding.

“Some people are continuing to take risks and Hastings District Council is warning that we will consider prosecution if people light outdoor fires. These fires have caused a major amount of damage and put stresses on our volunteer firefighters. We will not tolerate people flouting the fire ban and risking other events such as the one we have just been through,” said Ms Banks.

4 October 2017

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