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Police slam 'extremely dangerous' drone flying near Tasman fire zone

Author
NZ Herald ,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Thursday, 7 February 2019, 11:49a.m.

Police have received reports of a drone flying in the Wakefield area and urging the pilot to ground it.

"Drone activity has the potential to stop all helicopters responding to the emergency fire situation. This is extremely dangerous and our priority is to ensure the helicopters can continue with their work," police said today.

• 235 homes evacuated, residents can't return for up to three days
• Fire has spread to 1900 hectares at two sites near Nelson
• PM Jacinda Ardern flies into today to survey damage
• At least one home has been destroyed, with confirmed damage to others

The Pigeon Valley fire outside of Nelson is still "out of control", a top fire chief says.

One property was confirmed lost to the fire, FENZ incident controller John Sutton confirmed this morning, describing it as "terrible" news.

Sutton had seen the fire brushing past houses, with house paint blistered by the heat, but the houses were otherwise unscathed.

 Firefighters battle a blaze that forced the evacuation of residents of 235 homes in the Tasman district. photo / Getty.
Firefighters battle a blaze that forced the evacuation of residents of 235 homes in the Tasman district. photo / Getty.

While yesterday had been a good day, making progress in containing the fire, they have a lot of work ahead of them, with a forecast for high temperatures and winds looking ominous.

They are still officially saying the fire is "out of control", he told residents at an emotional community meeting outside the fire cordon this morning.

There was work to still make a containment line around the fire, Sutton said.
"Wind is the enemy," he said.

He reassured residents he hadn't come in to "take over" but rather to offer support to the good work already happening fighting the blaze.

There are 22 helicopters available to fight the fire from the air, along with two fixed-wing aircraft which are putting in retardant lines at strategic places in case of a wind change.

Crews worked overnight in the dark to stave off the inferno.

"Today is a huge day for us," Sutton said.

"We have to make some ground."

ON AIR: Kerre McIvor Mornings

9a.m. - 12p.m.