Massive Qtown blaze under control

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A massive vegetation fire near Queenstown that threatened local properties has been brought under control. 

Five helicopters with monsoon buckets and two rural fire crews battled the blaze, which sparked at about 6.10am above Wilson Bay between Queenstown and Glenorchy. 

Five homes were evacuated but residents have been allowed back to their homes. 

The fire, about 10 minutes’ drive from Queenstown, covered an area of 30,000sq m in a gully above Wilson Bay. 

Department of Conservation spokesman John Roberts says it’s thought the blaze was started by nearby power lines. 

“It has burnt quite close to some of the houses but we seem to have that under control at the moment,” he says. 

The luxury Matakauri Lodge was among properties that had to be evacuated. 

Claire Malcolm, partner of lodge director Jay Robertson, reckons flames were about 100m away. 

“It definitely is close. It’s lucky we didn’t have any guests in-house last night.” 

Morning rain must be helping the situation, Malcolm adds. 

The lodge, which charges $1750 a night, reopened in August under new ownership after it was closed for a year for renovations.