Firefighters from afar support Otago-based crews

Photo: Campers had a narrow escape (photo taken 3:30pm, 4/1/18) - Nikki Heath / Wanaka Sun

A drone with thermal imaging equipment has been flying over the fire ground on Roys Peak since first light this morning, while a ground crew dealt with hotspots and flare-ups overnight.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s Incident Controller Mark Mawhinney said that the results of the aerial survey would inform the plan of attack for today’s activities.

Three helicopters and three ground crews are being briefed and will begin attacking the hotspots after 8am.

“We had 5mm of rain on the hill overnight, which has helped, but there are areas with heavier fuels that are holding a lot of heat,” Mr Mawhinney said.

He expected that the crews would be operating all day today and likely into tomorrow, with winds up to 30 km/hr and temperatures up to 22 degrees forecast.

While no rain is predicted today, the cooler conditions would help the crews.

Walking tracks on Roys Peak, Spotts Creek and part of the Millennium Trail remain closed to the public today because of the firefighting and helicopter operations and Mr Mawhinney thanked the Wanaka community for their understanding and support for the fire crews’ work.

“I’ve just been talking to the crew that have been on the hill all night. They’re having breakfast and enjoying some of the home cooking and fresh fruit that the locals brought us. We can’t say enough how grateful we are.”

Today’s firefighters are from as far afield as Invercargill and Mount Cook, supporting the Otago-based crews.

Cover image: Photo: Campers had a narrow escape (photo taken 3:30pm, 4/1/18) - Nikki Heath / Wanaka Sun

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