Huge scrub fire in winery valley

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Fire fighters battled a huge scrub fire in Gibbston Valley in the early hours of this morning (Saturday).

Crews from Frankton and Arrowtown tackled the blaze on land near the Mt Rosa Winery, off Gibbston Highway.

Nobody is believed to have been injured.
 
About 20 fire fighters were called in to extinguish the fire, believed to be sparked by hunters shooting rabbits.
 
It started about 10.30pm last night on a hill in the middle of the well-known vineyard.

Deputy principal rural fire officer Briana Pringle, on scene this morning, says: “Fortunately there is a natural fire break, a road, around the hill.

“And because there was no wind, we haven’t had to deal with anything being blown on to the vines.

“There is a house nearby but due to the nature of fire, fires tend to spread upwards. The briar is also quite green so we’ve been able to let it burn itself out.”

A fire ban is currently in place across the whole of the Queenstown district.

Workers from Queenstown Lakes District Council remain on scene today damping down the smouldering hill, which is directly behind the wine tasting building at the vineyard. 

Sergeant Blair Duffy says: “Police have been advised that it may have been started by way of gun shots – people shooting rabbits.
 
“It is being investigated by Rural Fire. We believe there may have been two separate fires at Mt Rosa, both related.
 
“Nobody was injured.”