Bringing a steam train from Dunedin was a popular idea with the 400 seats on offer snapped up by people keen to enjoy the journey and the destination.
When I went into Oamaru around midday yesterday businesses in the town’s historic precinct was ready and waiting for the passengers.
But while the idea was popular it wasn’t such a good one in the middle of a very dry summer.
Where there’s steam there’s fire and where there’s fire there are sparks, some of which ignited the tinder dry growth along the railway line:
Firefighters are battling a cluster of large scrub fires stretching for kilometres south of Oamaru.
The fires, which began about 2.30pm, were believed to have been sparked by a vintage steam train on an excursion from Dunedin, passengers on board said.
Thirteen fire appliances and two helicopters armed with monsoon buckets were helping tackle the fires, which stretched from Maheno north as far as Oamaru, Otago Rural Fire Authority principal rural fire officer Stephanie Rotarangi said. . .
There were four helicopters by late afternoon and friends were busy dampening down hot spots on their boundary and spraying canary seed to keep it wet.
The worst appears to be over now but it will be a nervous night for people near the line.
Stuff has more on the story and photos here.