A wildfire at Lake Tekapo this morning has prompted a strong warning for landowners to make sure any land management fires are completely extinguished.
Fire and Emergency Incident Controller Steve Ochsner said the fire was reported at 2.45am, very close to the Tekapo Power Station on Tekapo Powerhouse Road, and near Lake Tekapo Village.
The fire was fanned by extremely strong winds overnight and has burnt through a range of vegetation on privately owned land, including forestry, farmland and wilding pines.
Crews from Lake Tekapo, Twizel, Fairlie and Burkes Pass fought the fire overnight.
Thanks to steady rain and calm conditions in the area, the fire was no longer running, providing crews the chance to create a control line..
Mr Ochsner said the last crew and digger would be finishing work at the site this afternoon.
“The crews have worked really hard to secure the perimeter and contain the fire to around 29 hectares. Today’s rain has also been a big help.”
Fire and Emergency would be patrolling the perimeter regularly for the next few days to monitor remaining hotspots and ensure there were no flare-ups, with strong winds forecast to return tomorrow along with the continued rain.
There will be an investigation into the circumstances of the fire, which is not considered suspicious.
Mid South Canterbury District Manager Rob Hands said that it was pure luck that the weather had changed this morning, bringing calm conditions and rain to the area.
“Lake Tekapo area has a high risk of wildfire all year round. This morning’s incident shows how easily a fire will run in windy conditions, so people have to be vigilant all the time and take extra care when they are lighting any fires on their own property.”
Fireworks were an additional risk at this time of year, and anyone planning to let them off needed to have water on hand to make sure they were completely out before disposing of them carefully.
Fire and Emergency is working with Mackenzie District Council, Environment Canterbury and the Department of Conservation on a wildfire risk reduction programme for the Lake Tekapo community. Mr Hands said today’s fire illustrated just how important that work was.
“What happened this morning is a very good reminder that people need to look at what they are doing on their own property and take extra care with any activities that could spark a fire. They should also be taking steps to reduce the fire risk to their homes.”