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Firefighters control Great Barrier Island blaze

Published: 5:41AM Wednesday January 23, 2013 Source: ONE News

Fire crews are hoping they will be able to keep a large bush fire under control overnight on Great Barrier Island near Auckland.

The fire has been contained to a strip around 1 kilometre long near Claris Airport on the eastern side of the island.

More than 30 properties have been evacuated as a precaution since the fire started yesterday, but most residents have returned to their homes.

Rural fire officer Bryan Cartelle said the wind is definitely more in their favour tonight and crews are in a far better position than they were last night.

He said crews had made "good progress" containing the fire from three sides.

"I would like to thank all the crews and everyone who has gone the extra mile today - it's been a big effort," Cartelle said.

Cartelle said two Department of Conservation fire fighting teams arrived today and additional crews are also on their way from Nelson and Rotorua.

They will begin the "mop up" effort tomorrow which involves dampening down hotspots and removing dangerous trees.

The blaze has already destroyed 112 hectares between Claris Airport and Okupu.

There have been no requests made for welfare assistance today and everyone on the island has rallied to help out.

ONE News Reporter Lisa Owen, who flew over the island today, said the fire had almost reached the police station and some of the evacuated houses.

"It looks like someone has come through with a massive weed eater and slashed and burned all the way through. Lots of charred earth and bushes that look like blackened whiskers today," she said.

Owen said fire crews could remain on the island for weeks to ensure no hotspots remain.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. It is the second blaze on the island in as many days, with another large fire in the same area on Sunday night.

A group of rural firefighters also remained overnight at the scene of a large fire in Kawakawa Bay, south of Auckland overnight, to keep an eye out for hotspots.

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