Volatile wildfire conditions in the Mackenzie Basin

Monday 8 January 2024, 11:58AM

By Fire and Emergency New Zealand



People living in semi-rural areas in the Mackenzie Basin should take yesterday’s fire near Lake Ōhau as a warning about how quickly fire can spread and threaten homes, the area’s most senior Fire and Emergency officer says.

Mid-South Canterbury District Manager Rob Hands said the fire on Manuka Terrace moved quickly and was estimated to have covered about 1km before firefighters from Twizel, Omarama, Fairlie, Lake Tekapo and Kurow brought it under control.

"The fire was within 100 metres of continuous trees. If the wind had been blowing in the other direction, we would have been there for a week or two putting it out."

Crews worked hard to prevent the fire reaching houses, and Rob Hands hopes it will prompt residents and property owners in the area to come to a wildfire information session that Fire and Emergency is holding in the Twizel Events Centre this Wednesday evening (10 January), starting at 6.30pm.

With hot, dry and windy weather forecast to continue all week, people need to understand that conditions for wildfire are volatile. A complete fire ban is in place for the whole Mackenzie Basin, meaning all outdoor fires are prohibited. "There’s no room for complacency here - the environment is so ready to receive fire," Rob Hands said.