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Marlborough fire contained, suspicious

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/01/2017

A suspicious fire on the banks of the Taylor River that started near Westmount School in Blenheim is under control.

A fire crew will remain on site to dampen down hotspots and keep a presence overnight, says Marlborough Kaikoura Rural Fire Authority Principal Fire Officer Richard McNamara.

"Specialist investigators from urban and rural fire have arrived on site to help determine the cause of the fire, which is suspicious," he says.

Bulldozers will be used on Sunday to help control any underground hotspots.

Earlier about 60 residents left their homes mostly due to issues with heavy smoke.

On Saturday night access to the area is still restricted to residents only.

The Taylor River walkway and the Wither Hills Farm Park are closed.

Thirty firefighters and six helicopters were used to bring the fire under control.

A total fire ban is in place in Marlborough.

A fire that swept through the Wither Hills on Boxing Day 2000 burned out of control for two days, threatened the town boundary, scorched pasture and killled stock.

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