Tragedy as a tiny New Zealand tourist town is almost totally destroyed by an out of control bushfire – with experienced firefighters describing it as like seeing a ‘warzone’
- Lake Ohau in Mackenzie Country on New Zealand’s South Island has been ravaged by out of control bushfire
- A majority of the homes in the popular tourist destination have been destroyed after fire took hold on Sunday
- Authorities said firefighters have managed to contain the fire despite the threat of strong winds on Monday
A small tourist town on New Zealand‘s south island has been ravaged by bushfire, with almost all homes destroyed in a devastating blaze.
Authorities say a fire which ravaged the popular tourist location of Lake Ohau has largely been contained despite forecast high winds threatening a further outbreak.
Local mayor Gary Kircher said the majority of buildings in the hamlet, which has a regular population of 20, have been destroyed.
‘It’s a minor miracle that no-one has been harmed,’ Mr Kircher told Radio NZ.
Lake Ohau in Mackenzie Country on New Zealand’s South Island has been ravaged by out of control bushfire. Pictured: a burnt out car left in the ruble from the blaze
A majority of the homes in the popular tourist destination have been destroyed after the deadly fire took hold on Sunday
The fire burned through the central town in Mackenzie Country in the early hours of Sunday and has destroyed up to 5,000 hectares.
It is believed up to 50 homes – many mainly used as holiday homes – were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable in the blaze.
Hundreds of sheep have been killed, with around 200 people checking in at an evacuation centre nearby at Twizel.
Firefighting helicopters and ground crews battled to contain the fire on Monday, desperate to keep it away from key electricity infrastructure in the area amid the high wind warnings.
Local mayor Gary Kircher said it was a miracle that no one was harmed in the fire. Pictured: a razed home after the fire tore through the region
Authorities said firefighters (pictured) have managed to contain the fire despite the threat of strong winds on Monday
The fire spread into conservation land, farms and mountainsides, forcing about 90 people to leave behind homes overnight.
Fire crews used drones during the night to locate hot spots, with eleven helicopters and nine ground crews going out to target those areas on Monday morning.
Fire and Emergency’s Incident Commander Steve Jones told The Morning Report firefighters still had a challenging day ahead of them.
‘We’re having gusts of wind up to 60 kilometres an hour across the lake, so we had a lot of hot spots and flare ups and ember transfer so we were pretty careful to get onto that as quick as possible,’ he said.
‘The weather is not that conducive to good firefighting – obviously high winds, the temperature is going to get up today, humidity will drop … which will make firefighting difficult, especially for those deep seeded embers.’
The region has a regular population of 20 but is a popular location with tourists, with the fire causing about 90 people to stay out of their homes overnight