19 Oct 2010

Houses evacuated in Queenstown scrub fire

10:23 pm on 19 October 2010

A large scrub fire on the outskirts of Queenstown forced the evacuation of about 20 houses on Tuesday, before being brought under control.

The Fire Service says the fire broke out at 5.45am on Tuesday in a pine forest on a hillside above the newly reopened luxury Matakauri Lodge, about 10km north-west of Queenstown.

Four helicopters with monsoon buckets brought the blaze under control.

Greg Lind from the Department of Conservation says the blaze covered about 1ha of pine trees on DoC land.

Mr Lind says overhead power lines arcing in strong winds may have caused it.

He says houses scattered through the forest were the worry, rather than the loss of trees.

Although the fire was contained on Tuesday, he says it may take another day to extinguish.