Lake Tekapo wildfire prompts warning to land owners

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Nov 01, 2022 |

A wildfire at Lake Tekapo this morning has prompted a strong warning for landowners to make sure any old 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 worked to protect the power station in the early hours, and it was no longer at risk, Mr Ochsner said.

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. Crews from Lake Tekapo, Twizel, Fairlie and Burkes Pass fought the fire overnight.

“This would have been a completely different story if the wind had kept up and we hadn’t had the rain,” Mr Ochsner said. “We are still working hard to contain it.”

Two crews are working on the fire this morning and will be joined by a further two from Cave and Cannington, with four-wheel-drive fire trucks. Two excavators are also clearing access to the fireground and creating firebreaks.

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.”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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