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All hands on deck to fight Great Barrier fire

Published: 6:01AM Thursday January 24, 2013 Source: ONE News

The Navy has been called on to help fight a lingering blaze on Great Barrier Island, near Auckland.

The fire flared up again overnight, but firefighters say it was within the containment zone they have set up on the island.

Patrol Vessel HMNZS OTAGO will return to the Auckland Naval Base this evening to pick up almost five tonnes of firefighting equipment, before heading to Great Barrier Island.

Relief supplies, including food and water, will also be on board the vessel which is due to arrive by tomorrow morning.

Firefighters from across the country have been brought in to help put out the blaze that has burnt through more than a 100 hectares of scrub and pine on the island in the Hauraki Gulf.

Photos sent to ONE News show the fire is approaching the side of the runway at Claris Airport.

The Fire Service says the new fires were within the current containment lines and did not spread beyond the existing fire limits. The containment lines have also been strengthened by the ground crew and thermal imagery has been used to identify hotspots.

Around 45 volunteer rural firefighters will continue to work on the fire perimeter today as part of a "mop up" operation.

Weather conditions are said to be favourable for the ground based operation, however stronger winds are expected tomorrow and Saturday making continuing to strengthen containment lines a top priority.

No properties have been damaged but more than 30 have been evacuated as a precaution since the fire started on Tuesday. Most residents have now returned to their homes including those who were evacuated from Okupu Ridge.

Fire crews could remain on the island for weeks to ensure no hotspots remain.

Dampening down near Christchurch

Christchurch firefighters say there were no further flare ups in West Melton overnight after an Army training exercise started a fire which tore through a kilometre of farm land.

Fire crews remained at the scene overnight dampening down hotspots.

The fire was caused by live ammunition from a Defence Force shooting range and operations have been suspended until an investigation has been completed.

It spread across a one kilometre by 500 metre area and took 16 appliances and up to 6 helicopters to bring it under control.

A Defence Force employee received medical attention for non-critical injuries, while a firefighter had to be treated for minor burns.

Concern for Northland fire

It is expected to take several days for fire crews who have been fighting a large fire in Northland to dampen down all hotspots.

Three helicopters and 80 ground crew have been fighting flames that have burned through more than 200 hectares of conservation land at the Pouto Peninsula on the Kaipara Harbour.

The fire has been contained but dry conditions are fuelling concerns there could be more flare ups in the coming days.

National Rural Fire Officer Murray Dudfield says a host of rural authorities across the north are operating under total fire bans.

He said the soil is dry, which is making the fires harder to put out than normal but is confident the rural fire service has all the first-response resources it needs.

- with Newstalk ZB

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