The controlled burn starting to pick up. Photo / Supplied
A large fire burning on the side of Mt Ngongotahā this afternoon was a controlled burn. Scrub was burnt on a block of land above the Adventure Playground tourist attraction, where gorse and scrub have grown in the area over the years.
Prime Forest Management Ltd consultant Shane Perrett said the owners were planning to clear it and plant pine trees. Given the state of the land, it was too hard to get machinery in there to clear it, so fire was being used instead to prepare the land, he said.
The helicopter in action during the controlled burn. Photo / Andrew Warner
Helicopters were used and about 15 people were involved, including Fire and Emergency New Zealand staff who used the fire as a training exercise. Before the controlled burn began a briefing was held.
A monsoon bucket with water and foam was also used to dampen and protect a small, empty cabin structure from being a part of the burn. The helicopter and bucket in the sky was quite a sight, and some of those doing Rotorua clay bird shooting paused to watch.
A monsoon bucket was used to help protect a small cabin from the controlled burn. Photo / Shauni James
Jarron McInnes, deputy principal rural fire officer, had said beforehand he hoped all the Fire and Emergency New Zealand staff attending would walk away with some key learnings. He said using the controlled burn as a training exercise was about knowing your fire environment and the behaviour you could expect.
Afterwards he said, despite it not taking off like expected, the firefighters certainly saw some fire behaviour and got key learnings which was good training for them, and it gave them some experience using hand tools.
The helicopter at work. Photo / Supplied