The “deep seated” fire on Mt Roy will take a considerable effort to extinguish, principal rural fire officer Graeme Still said.
Graeme is in charge of the firefighting effort and said that four ground crews have now joined eight helicopters on the steep hillside this morning, with another crew on its way.
“This is a deep seated fire that has burnt 199 hectares. It’s very slow work on the hill,” Graeme said.
With temperatures are forecast to increase later today and MetService issuing a thunderstorm watch for the area, the weather will be a significant factor in fire fighting, Graeme said.
The aim is to contain the fire within its current perimeter, and then put it out. Firefighting will continue into tomorrow, with crews monitoring the fireground overnight.
Three walking tracks have been closed to the public today because of the fire. They are the Mt Roy track, the Spotts Creek track and the Millennium Track from Ruby Bay to the Edgewater Bridge, in the area where the helicopters are filling their monsoon buckets.
The Queenstown Lakes District harbourmaster Marty Black has staff patrolling the lake to keep boaties away from the helicopter operations after some approached too close this morning.
There is an aerial exclusion zone above the fire to keep civilian aircraft and drones from obstructing the helicopters in their work.
Graeme thanked the Wanaka community for their cooperation and support.
Cover image: View of the fire damage from across the lake at 11 am, Thursday 4/1/18. Photo: Nikki Heath / Wanaka Sun
Click to read today's Wanaka Sun
Enlarge screen by double-clicking on the page
View all earlier editions of the Wanaka Sun here