Thursday, February 5, 2015

Fire at Northbank - Onamalutu.

I awoke this morning to the smell of smoke. I picked up my iPad to find messages to ask if I were okay and wondered what the fuss was. The fuss was bigger than I thought. Just 2km away from a fire was raging out of control at Northbank. Clouds of smoke billowed into the sky, some white, some black, and some pink.

We've had no rain for weeks, the driest summer in 40 years in this region.

I decided to stay at home and monitor the situation, but then RW from the Camera Club wanted to take photos, so I picked him up from the Renwick Takeaways and down to Northbank we went. These are some of the photos I got from the day.

Using my Sigma 120-400mm I took this from the road. A short while later one of the vineyard tractors towing a water truck dampened down this flare up.
Helicopters carring monsoon buckets were flying right over us, and the big zoom lens meant I couldn't get everthing in!

Another one of the flare up getting out of control.

Where there's smoke, there's fire.

This little patch of fire quickly got out of control and raced up the hill. Everything is tinder dry as we've had no rain for weeks.

We were taking photos at the section where the road was closed, but further up the road the fire was much worse and raging out of control.

We were wearing hi-vis vests, so when some officials came up talked to the road block people, we cheekily asked if we could get a ride up to the action. I didn't expect the answer to be yes, but it was!

This is where all the helicopters were starting up from, getting their monsoon buckets, and swapping around crew.

And off he goes to join the others.

We were only allowed to stay in that area for a very short while, and then we were taken back to the road block. This was taken out the window while we were heading back, which is the reason it's not quite as in focus as the others.

However, the driver stopped to let us take this one.

After that, we headed back into my car and drove to the otherside of the river we hoped to get images of the helicopters picking up the water from the river.

Monsoon bucket dropping into the water. I should have had my wide angle lens on. In fact I changed it in the hope another one would come in close, but they started filling up from another water hole rather than this one. Probably because there were simply too many people on the bank, and there had already been one helicopter crash this morning filling up the monsoon buckets. Apparently a gust of wind got the helicopter and it lost control.

I did put my wide angle lens on for a short while, and here you can see the extent of the fire and the smoke filled sky.

We bumped into two other Camera Club members, and they told us of a place further down the stopbank, so we headed down there and walked down to the river. This was with my 400mm Lens, so we were not close to the whirly birds at all, and we didn't venture closer as we didn't want to interfere with their work.

The last image I took - two helicopters flying off with full monsoon bucket, and a third one in the distance on it's way back.

As of the time writing this, the fire is still raging out of control although the wind has died down so hopefuly we'll see the last of it soon.