Thu, Feb 8, 2024 4:30 PM

Seddon blaze investigation under way


Paula Hulburt

An investigation into the cause of a 25-hectare grass fire near Seddon is underway to help discover the exact cause.

Ten fire trucks, 30 firefighters and three helicopters and support vehicles rushed to the scene of the fire as the first call came in shortly before 11am on Wednesday.

Tinder dry conditions and winds saw the blaze spread quickly, growing from an initial four hectares.

Group manager Fire and Emergency New Zealand Chris Hayles says there was a real danger the fire could have spread even further.

“Without fire crews and helicopters attacking the fire it would have most definitely spread further.

“Fortunately, the wind was blowing a light South Easterly but there was plenty of dry grass that the fire could have continued in.

“Given the dryness in Marlborough the fire could easily have been larger than it was.

“Fast response by crews and helicopters definitely stopped this happening.”

The scorched ground as seen from above after the blaze which spread to 25 hectares. Photo: Supplied/FENZ

It took three hours to contain the blaze which threatened nearby Yealands Estate Winery. Staff were evacuated as a precaution.

Plumes of smoke from the blaze could be seen from the Weld Pass.

The last of the fire crews left the site at about 5.30pm, fed onsite by volunteers with the Blenheim Rapid Relief Team.

Chris says he is delighted with the result, paying tribute to the crews for their hard work.

“Definitely pleased with the result as fast-moving grass fires are hard to contain.

“Helicopters do a great job stopping the spread of fire but the ground crews do the hard work mopping up every last little bit of fire to ensure it can't spread.”

Initial investigations, which Chris says are part of a normal process, point to an old burn pile on Yealand’s property.

Having an accurate cause of the fire is crucial, he says.

“It's a reminder for anyone who has old burn piles on their property to ensure they are opened up or raked out and put water on them.

“Just because the burn pile looks like it is out often, they retain heat and can reignite weeks or months later.

“Again, another reminder for the public to be extra careful when doing any activities that could generate a spark.”

All members of the public were advised to avoid the area as not to hamper firefighting efforts.

Fire trucks and support vehicles from Seddon, Awatere, Blenheim, Blenheim Rural, Flaxbourne, and Rarangi attended.

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