Bracken and snow grass fire on Roys Peak Wanaka

While out walking tonight, I saw the start of a fire – a farmer’s burn-off going a bit wrong. I took awhile to hoof it home to get closer with my truck, but this had advantages light wise. Tripod and wet feet crossing Waterfall Creek both helped… my friend’s Alix and James doing a great job flying monsoon buckets into the smoke and dusk…

PS: The story emerges: so far it seems a case not typical of the usual burn-off of bracken fern by a high country farmer, and more an accidental startup at the hands of a small block holder wishing to get rid of some gorse. People new to the area, and not aware perhaps that even ‘tho we’ve had a heap of rain lately, fern really burns well and helps no end to get a larger event established.

It was easy to get in position for these shots, because I’ve seen more than one fire on this face over the years – they spread and race up because of wind and always seem to burn diagonally across Roys Peak, so when this happens then no houses or people are usually in immediate danger [noting you can’t assume anything with a fire and precautions must be taken, and apparently were], but the vegetation uphill comprised of a few natives sadly gets a hammering.

The other regular site nearby of similar events is Ruby Island to the right of where I was with my camera. A small island now hosting many plantings of native trees and plants. The last fire on it travelled so quickly comparatively few of the new planting were damaged. It both “raced” through older tree tops and through long grass at an astonishing speed. I suspect the spike of heat was so short lived other plants did not ignite. I was on the island helping, but all of us had no option but to fight only 2m inwards from the water – we retreated often to keep our clothing wet [classic best practise is to wear wool despite the summer heat, and not have bare skin exposed].



About this Like Minds Blog Donald Lousley