Northlanders told to stay away from Kaimaumau beach as fire flares

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Northlanders are being told to stay well away from the beach at Kaimaumau, as a scrub fire that has burned for more than two weeks flares up.

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Smoke could be seen billowing from the fire on the day it was reported, at Kaimaumau, north of Kaitāia. Photo: SUPPLIED

The blaze on the wetland was reported on 18 December, and has been contained within a perimeter of 31 kilometres, but burned through 2300 hectares of bush, scrub, swamp and dune vegetation.

NZ Fire and Emergency incident controller John Sutton said access to the beach had been closed because people’s safety cannot be guaranteed.

He said as well as the many fires burning inside the firebreaks, other hazards include fire-damaged trees, deep holes left by gum diggers and peat fires burning underground.

Throughout the fortnight helicopters have been used to dump water on the flames and surrounding areas, and heavy machinery has been used to create firebreaks.

But changing winds have allowed it the blaze to jump firebreaks and play havoc with firefighters’ ability to contain it.

It is feared the fire will have damaged sacred iwi sites, and could have decimated rare flora and fauna in the wetlands.

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