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Port Hills Fire Update #17 – FENZ

Firefighters have eliminated half of the hotspots on the Port Hills that were located by thermal imaging last night and early this morning.

Fire and Emergency Incident Controller Steve Kennedy said the dayshift had put in a big effort to cool 28 out of 58 hotspots pinpointed by the aerial reconnaissance. Firefighters with hand tools and hoses were supported by heavy machinery to dig out and expose the hotspots. Helicopters were dropping water on the largest areas.

The work will continue into the evening and overnight to reduce the risk of the fire flaring up in high winds forecast tomorrow.

A mix of volunteer and career firefighters will be working on the fireground tonight. Fire and Emergency’s specialist drone crew will resume thermal imaging flights tonight, continuing to hunt down hotspots that will be tackled by firefighters tomorrow.

Fire and Emergency has worked with Christchurch and Selwyn Civil Defence this afternoon to home-deliver fire safety information to residents nearest the fireground. Houses that were evacuated last Wednesday have had a letterbox drop letting them know about the expected high winds and encouraging them to be aware and prepared to act.

Steve Kennedy says that people right across Canterbury should be aware of the increased wildfire danger tomorrow and be careful not to do anything that could spark a fire. That ranges from activities like welding and grinding outdoors to mowing or harvesting. If activities can’t be postponed until later in the week they should be timed for early in the morning when conditions are more likely to be calm and cool.

People are also reminded that the Christchurch City Council has closed the Port Hills walking and cycling tracks, and roads leading to the fireground are still restricted to residents only.

There is a total fire ban across Canterbury north of the Rakaia River.

By consciously avoiding activities that could cause a fire, people will be helping to keep themselves and others safe. Steve Kennedy says that at the end of Day Five of the Port Hills fire, the safety of firefighters, response personnel and the public remains the highest priority.

“Crews are doing hard, physical work in hot conditions, and on very steep terrain in some places.”

Training, equipment and safe working practices are fundamental and in a long-duration event like this fire, fatigue management is reinforced to everyone.


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