Scrub fire could take three weeks to put out

An photo taken from a Royal New Zealand C-130 of the bush fire on Chatham Island. Photo: Supplied / New Zealand Defence Force

Firefighters are working tirelessly to fully extinguish a massive scrub fire on the Chatham Islands, but it could take up to three weeks to do so.

The fire, which broke out on the first day of February, ripped through about 2500 hectares of land and was contained earlier this week.

But Principal Rural Fire Officer, Craig Cottrill, says the work is far from over.

Now attention has turned to putting the fire completely out and making sure it doesn’t flare up again.

"Firefighters and helicopter pilots have been working 11-hour days to get this thing under control, and now they’re working equally hard to extinguish it, hopefully by the end of the month," he says.

Two helicopters, along with two specialist crews from Wellington, a Chatham Island’s crew, and a team from the Department of Conservation are continuing to work on the fire.

Craig Cottrill says one of the crews will be swapped out over the next few days to give them a break.

The teams have been using thermal imaging cameras to identify hotter areas that need to be doused with water.

He says he expects crews to keep working on the fire over the next three weeks.

"Because the fire is so big, it’s going to take some time until it’s fully out, but we are doing everything we can to extinguish it by February 28."

An investigation into what caused the blaze is continuing.


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