Date: 25 May 2012
A fire burning last night in pine trees near Lyttelton has been brought under control by a Department of Conservation-led rural fire team using a helicopter with night-flying capability, in a Canterbury first.
The Department of Conservation fire response coordinator Bruce Janes said the risk of the fire burning over the ridge and potentially releasing rocks held in trees above Lyttelton, called for the use of a night-vision-capable helicopter and qualified pilot.
“It’s the first time DOC has had to resort to night flying for a rural fire in Canterbury due to the potential risk to life from rock fall.”
The fire, which started at about 1.30am, burned 1-2 hectares beneath mature pine forest in the Urumau Reserve above Sumner Road and the Lyttelton Port Company coal storage area. The reserve was closed to the public due to rock fall hazard as a result of the earthquakes, and remains closed.
The fire was stopped at the ridge and contained by 6am. Ten rural fire personnel from DOC, NZ Fire Service, Governors Bay Volunteer Rural Fire Force and the Christchurch City Council worked on the fire overnight, said Janes.
Two helicopters and a ground crew of 25 are continuing to work on the fire today to ensure it is completely dampened down.
The cause of the fire is unknown and is being investigated.
Fiona Oliphant: +64 027 470 1378