Wildfire in Chatham Islands burns thousands of acres

Anticipating a wind change, 19 household along the Waitangi Wharf – Owhenga Road have been evacuated

map Chatham Islands
Screen grab from a NZDF video of a wildfire on the Chatham Islands.

A wildfire on the Chatham Islands 700 miles east of New Zealand has burned about 2,000 hectares (4,900 acres).

Principal Rural Fire Officer Craig Cottrill says two teams of five specialist rural firefighters and four incident management team specialists will fly via charter aircraft at 3pm on Saturday 3 February with fuel, equipment and supplies for a two-week deployment. Two helicopters with monsoon bucket capacity are also set to arrive on the island.

Chatham Islands Fire
Chatham Islands Fire. NZDF photo.

They will join eight Fire and Emergency volunteers, four Department of Conservation staff, and three local contractors working to contain the fire. It has started to burn into conservation land, however the true extent of the fire will be determined once additional crews are on the ground.While the fire is currently burning towards the southern coast, a wind change to the north is in the forecast overnight. Accordingly, 19 households along the Waitangi Wharf – Owhenga Road have been evacuated to a welfare center operated by the Chatham Council Civil Defence as a precaution overnight.

Chatham Islands map new zealand
The Chatham Islands are about 700 miles east of New Zealand. Google Earth.
Chatham Islands map smoke
Smoke from a wildfire on the Chatham Islands can be seen blowing to the southeast February 1, 2018. NASA.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.