Flamethrower ignited and blasted during Tasman fire ban

In the bottom of a valley in the middle of the bone-dry Nelson-Tasman district, festival goers near Upper Takaka were treated to a pyrotechnics performance.

Despite the total fire ban throughout the region, flames were blasted into the air by a flamethrower mounted onto the back of a ute over the weekend as music pumped through the speakers.

Meanwhile, 80km away at Pigeon Valley, emergency services continue to tackle a scrub fire which has engulfed over 2300ha which started almost two weeks ago.

A festival-goer, who wished not to be named, said he was unaware the area had a total fire ban but the pyrotechnics “looked good and it was controlled”.

“It was a fun event, many people had a blast and would love the organisers to do another one,” he said.

“There was all the safety precautions taken first with water hoses and fire extinguishers. The area that there was fire was on dirt, with nothing in range of catching on fire and there were many on patrol to make sure all was good.”

Called Dystopia, the outdoor music festival featured techno, drum and bass, hip hop, metal and dub artists and had gate sales of $60.

Located on Cobb Valley Rd, Upper Takaka, the festival ran from 7pm on Friday until 10pm on Sunday.

Pictures from the festival reveal it was held in the bottom of a valley with dirt and gravel on the ground but dry grass and thick bush was nearby.

Fire's are prohibited in Fire zone nine, where Upper Takaka is found. Photo / FENZ
Fire’s are prohibited in Fire zone nine, where Upper Takaka is found. Photo / FENZ

The Tasman fires started on February 5 after a spark from a tractor ignited tinder-dry grass and scrub on Pigeon Valley Hill, about 30km south of Nelson.

The fire has claimed one cottage and seen up to 3000 residents evacuated as up to 150 firefighters and dozens of helicopters worked on the blaze.

Yesterday, a helicopter pilot crashed while fighting the Tasman fires this afternoon and was transported to Nelson Hospital with minor to moderate injuries.

While the flames are largely out now there are still lots of hotspots underground which can flare up quickly.

Nelson Tasman Emergency Management Group said they were unaware of the incident.

Police and Fire and Emergency New Zealand have been contacted for comment.

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