Helicopters extinguish a fire near Nelson of South Island, New Zealand, Feb. 8, 2019. A medium-scale adverse event has been declared for Tasman district, unlocking further government support for farmers and growers as a fire starting three days ago still ravages the region, New Zealand Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said on Friday. (Xinhua/Tim Cuff)
WELLINGTON, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- A medium-scale adverse event has been declared for Tasman district, unlocking further government support for farmers and growers as a fire starting three days ago still ravages the region, New Zealand Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said on Friday.
"The wildfire and the drought conditions have combined to make it a particularly tough time for those trying to manage stock and grow food," O'Connor said in a statement.
"This unlocks extra funding of 50,000 NZ dollars (33,737 U.S. dollars) for the Rural Support Trusts and primary industry groups to help speed up the recovery of farming and horticultural businesses, O'Connor said, adding a medium-scale adverse event refers to the magnitude of the event, the ability to prepare for it and the capacity of the community to cope.
"The forecast holds little respite following several weeks of heat and high winds and with water restrictions in place, pastures and orchards are parched."
The fire, the biggest in nearly nine years, has further hurt rural communities with some stock losses, essential access to water restricted, feed destroyed and infrastructure damaged, the minister said.
"The acute issue is the management of stock where their owners have evacuated their properties due to the fires," the agricultural minister said, adding the Ministry for Primary Industries is working with vets, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Incorporated, fire and emergency and police to help farmers manage their animals or move them until it's safe to return.
"The focus remains on getting the blaze under control, cleaning up the immediate damage then supporting our rural sector to get back on their feet for winter."
Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes as the fire burned through 2,100 hectares within a perimeter of 27 km, compared with 23 km last night, according to local authorities.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern flied to Nelson in the South Island's Tasman region on Thursday to assess the damage.