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South Island fires: Crews to return to the three blazes this morning

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Fire and Emergency will return to the scene of the three fires in the South Island that burned in Selwyn, Central Otago and Southland last night.

Fire crews and three helicopters battled a fire that was raging on a steep hillside above Lake Dunstan in Central Otago. They worked through strong gusts to secure the perimeter until nightfall.

At 8am this morning, the crews will return to the scene of the active fire.

Helicopters were used to battle the three blazes. Photo / Luigi Cooks
Helicopters were used to battle the three blazes. Photo / Luigi Cooks

Incident Controller Bobby Lamont said the firefighters from local volunteer brigades and the helicopter pilots had done a tremendous job in very challenging conditions to limit the fire to three hectares.

“The fire had reignited about 4:20pm from an earlier fire started by fireworks last night,” Lamont said.

Meanwhile, a fire in Templeton left a firefighter hospitalised with smoke in inhalation.

The fire in a shelter belt was brought under control earlier yesterday evening and a crew was expected to remain at the scene overnight.

The fire on Fruitgrowers Road was a short distance from the Clyde Dam, and smoke had blown over both Clyde and Alexandra townships.

“The winds in the area have been horrific – thankfully the face where the fire is burning is slightly sheltered, and we slammed extra resources onto it to make sure it didn’t impact the transmission lines from the dam,” Lamont said.

“Central Otago is already in a restricted fire season due to the dry conditions and elevated fire danger, as is the Lakes District and Upper Waitaki.

“We are urging people to think twice about letting off fireworks in windy conditions, and be aware that it only takes one spark to cause a wildfire.”

Fire and emergency spokesperson Daryl Ball said they’ll return to both this morning to make sure there are no hotspots. He says no properties have been damaged in the fires.

Rachel Maher is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. She has worked for the Herald since 2022.

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