Tony Flemming and Leanne Hough from Teapot Valley watch helplessly from the back of their ute as the helicopters pouring water over their home and the vegetation around the house. Photo: Barry Whitnall

Pigeon Valley fire is country’s largest in 64 years

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The Pigeon Valley fire wreaking havoc has become New Zealand’s largest forest fire in 64 years.

Fire scientist Grant Pearce said the Pigeon Valley fire was one of New Zealand’s four biggest forest fires and similar in size to the Hira fire of 1981 that burned 1972ha close to Nelson City.

The largest forest fire on record was in 1946 when more than 30,000ha burned in the central North Island near Taupo, including 11,000ha of pine plantations. The next biggest was at Balmoral, Canterbury in 1955 when 3152ha burned.

Pearce, of the Scion Rural Fire Research Group, said New Zealand haD also experienced a number of large grassland and scrub fires, including the Ohinewairua fire in the central North Island in 1983 that wiped out 15,000ha of tussock and beech forest.

Pearce said the fires were relatively small in international terms. Some wildfires in the Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales exceeded 100,000ha.

The current wildfires in Tasmania have burned more than 30,000ha.

With NZ Herald