Man charged over 'reckless' alleged flying of drone as helicopters fought Wanaka fire

A man has been charged with endangering a transport facility after a drone was allegedly flown in the area of the fire on Mt Roy in Wanaka this afternoon.

Police say eight helicopters battling the blaze were grounded for 15 minutes when the drone was spotted.

Police managed to locate the drone pilot nearby, seize the drone and arrest the 33-year-old man.

He is due to appear in the Queenstown District Court next Monday.

Wanaka Area Response Manager Senior Sergeant Allan Grindell says to fly a drone where helicopters are working is reckless and it’s a timely reminder for drone operators to think before they fly.

“Not only did the grounding of the helicopters cost money and valuable time in the efforts to extinguish the blaze, it put the safety and lives of the helicopter pilots at risk,” Mr Grindell said.

The  fire was contained this evening and crews will remain onsite overnight to maintain control of it.

Fire and Emergency said the fire spread to 200 hectares and shifted up-hill, towards Roy Peak, away from houses. 

There have been no reports of damage to any properties and fire crews are working with farmers to move stock out of the way to ensure their safety, a spokesperson said.

The fire broke out behind houses and a holiday park and has spread over a wide area. Source: 1 NEWS


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'I just feel lucky' – Near miss for Christchurch man as steel beam smashes through car windscreen

A Christchurch man is searching for answers after a piece of steel smashed through his car windscreen, narrowly missing him.

Kaibos Mapuranga was driving on Old West Coast Road on Saturday morning when he saw the 15cm metal beam spinning towards him "from the sky".

It crashed through his windscreen with a loud bang and lodged into the dashboard.

"It took just a second for all this to happen," he said.

"If I had not moved slightly to the right, definitely, I could see it coming directly in front of me and it was going to crash.. go through my chest or explode my head. Anything could have happened, only God knows what happened there."

He was left shaking in shock on the side of the road until his daughter came and picked him up.

Mr Mapuranga is now scared to get behind the wheel again, fearing another incident will happen.

"I just hope this will not happen to me and I don’t wish it to happen to anyone because it's so unnerving. I don’t know how long it is going to (take) to get out of my mind," he said.

He said knowing if the metal dropped from a helicopter, another vehicle, or was caused by something else, would give him some peace of mind and help him stop thinking about the crash over and over.

"It's something that is puzzling me up to now. If I get a quick answer maybe it will help me to pull myself together," he said.

He hopes police will be able to help him find out how it occurred, he said.

He's counting his blessings as well.

"I wouldn't have gone into 2018 so I just feel lucky. My stars are still shining so I just hope it was a one-off," he said.

Kaibos Mapuranga was driving on Saturday when a steel beam fell from the sky narrowly missing him. Source: 1 NEWS

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Flash flooding turns Palmerston North road into river as wild weather hits

A band of severe thunderstorms has led to flash flooding on the streets of Palmerston North.

One local resident filmed a trip out with his kids that saw them confronted with a street which resembled a river.

TVNZ weather presenter Dan Corbett with the latest update.

"Flash flooding in Palmerston North! Time for a drive with the boys in the truck! Neck minute..." Tony Browne captioned his video on Facebook.

A weather warning has been issued for a low currently building off north eastern Australia. The front will hit New Zealand's north tomorrow, dumping 70-90mm of rain on Auckland before midnight, the MetService says.

The Super City is also expected to experience winds gusting up to 120 kilometres per hour.


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