Helicopter thermal imaging over the fire ground this morning shows a continuing reduction in hot spots.
The fire area has been re-evaluated based on the most recent aerial imaging, which has provided a greater level of detail on the burnt area. The new estimate of the fire area is 1645 hectares with a perimeter of 51 kilometres.
The weather forecast shows there will be rain tomorrow and it is believed the amount predicted to fall will not cause any significant issue due to rock fall, flooding or sediment runoff. Christchurch City Council’s land drainage team is monitoring the situation and will investigate options to mitigate these risks from future heavy rainfall events and the onset of winter.
People tidying up debris from the fire can make use of skips placed at No. 323, 338 (2 skips), 351 and 353 Worsleys Road. These skips are being monitored and emptied as required. At locations where there are two skips, it would be helpful if people could put green waste in one and rubbish in the other. This will reduce the cost of disposal at landfill.
This will continue until further notice.
Kerbside collections are operating as usual where collection trucks can gain access.
We are monitoring the need for restrictions on movement along Dyers Pass Road and hope to be able to further relax these soon.
Parks staff working with firefighters to restore access
Christchurch City Council Parks staff are working closely with fire management to enable wider access to park areas.
It is hoped greater access to Victoria Park and Sugarloaf may be possible soon as long as it does not interfere with ongoing firefighting and hazard reduction. Parks staff thank the public for their continued support and understanding of the limited access throughout the fire effort and look forward to seeing people enjoying the areas again shortly.
Fire incident controller Rob Hands says the 35.1km perimeter is now fully contained and controlled, with bare earth or blacked-out ground for at least 50 metres on both sides of the perimeter.
Thermal imaging has indicated a substantial reduction in underground hot spots within the 1819 hectare fire area, with spots remaining in only a few areas.
Rob Hands says fire crews will continue to work on damping down and digging out hot spots during the day, but the reduction in thermal activity means there is no need to maintain overnight monitoring patrols.
“The public can be reassured that we continue to have firefighting resources on standby and ready to respond should any flare-ups occur. If anyone does see flames or fire activity overnight, they should ring 111 immediately.”
Port Hills fire update: Friday 3 March 10am
Thermal imaging undertaken early this morning continues to show a significant decrease in hot spots across the fire area, with major reductions in many locations including the area above Dyers Pass Road, Hoon Hay Valley, and parts of Worsleys Road and Marley’s Hill.
Hot spots are still being identified in other sites, including areas of pine plantation. This pattern is likely to continue for some weeks, as it is common for hot spots to lie dormant underground.
Rural fire incident controller Rob Hands says the majority of the fire ground is looking clear of thermal activity. “We’re definitely winning the war – these results show a major reduction in hot spots from previous scans,” he says. “But there’s a lot of work still to be done and crews will remain active on the ground for some time to come, dealing with the remaining hot spots and making the area safe.”
A change from north-east to north-west conditions is forecast form late morning today, with temperatures in the high 20s and winds of 20 to 40 km/h, gusting up to 60 km/h. These conditions are expected to remain until late evening when a change towards the south is expected, with a chance of light rain or showers overnight.
The north-west conditions today mean there is a heightened risk of flare-ups occurring and spreading within the fire area.
Rob Hands says fire authorities have been planning for several days for the conditions. Additional fire crews and observers are being stationed around the fire area today to monitor and provide an immediate response to any flare-ups. Helicopters are also on standby. Additional tankers, a portable dipping dam and other water sources are in place to provide water if required.
“We hope nothing untoward occurs today, but we’re confident we have the plans and people in place ready to respond should any flare-ups or breakouts occur.
“We do continue to urge people in the area to be vigilant and to avoid any activities that might contribute to the fire risk.”
Port Hills Fire update: Thursday 2 March.
Port Hills Fire Update #2: Wednesday, 1 March 4.30pm
The Kennedys Bush Road cordon has been removed allowing public access to the road. Walking and biking tracks accessed from Kennedys Bush Road remain barricaded and there is no access to these at this time as fire operations continue.
Halswell Quarry is continuing to be used as a staging area for fire crews and currently remains closed. There is no confirmed date for its reopening.
Work continues today on removing a large number of burnt and unstable trees which are at risk of falling on the road. Contractors are also working to repair damaged marker posts and barriers.
Civil Defence are prioritising the work to get the road open but some restrictions are likely to remain once the road is reopened.
The Huntsbury Track has reopened this afternoon with the cordon removed. Civil Defence ask that people continue to respect the cordons that are still in place.
All residents now have access to their property with the last two property owners at the top of Worsleys Road gaining access this morning.
The Port Hills fires have seriously impacted the ecology of the Port Hills. Many members of the public are already offering generous donations to assist with the restoration of these important conservation areas so the Port Hills Fire Restoration Fund(external link) has been established.
This is a collaborative effort between Christchurch City Council, Selwyn District Council, government agencies, conservation groups, and the public support will aid the recovery efforts on publicly owned conservation land and private land with important ecological values.
There has been heavy demand on the water supply network as a result of the firefighting response and some damage to water pipes in the area.
Civil Defence is asking people in the Port Hills area to conserve water as much as possible over the next week while water levels in the reservoirs are restored
Hotspots are still being found in a number of areas, but there has been an overall reduction of these across the fire area. About 20 fire crews will be working in the Port Hills today.
99 percent of the fire perimeter is controlled with at least a 10 metre break between the edge of the fire zone and vegetation.
A reminder that GP visits for people in affected areas will be free for the next two months. The offer period covers the two months from 13 February 2017, the day the fire started.
Civil Defence payments are available if the fires have had a serious impact on you or your family. For further assistance visit this website or call 0800 559 009.
It is normal to feel anxious or stressed during abnormal events. Talking to someone can help and online tips are available.
There are a large number of burnt and unstable trees which are at risk of falling on the road. Civil Defence are prioritising the work to get the road open but some restrictions are likely to remain once it is open. Treetech are currently working on the most dangerous trees.
Contractors are also working to repair damaged marker posts and barriers.
Overnight crews will continue to monitor and patrol the fire in the Port Hills. Weather permitting, drones will be flying overnight to undertake thermal imaging and to support ground crews damping down hot spots. Around 20 fire crews will be operating tomorrow.
If you know of anyone in the affected area who hasn’t registered or you are concerned about, please encourage them to register online or through the Council’s Customer Contact Centre on 941 8999 or 0800 800 169.
Fire authorities describe the 35km perimeter of the fire area as now almost fully controlled. Controlled is defined as bare earth or blacked out ground for at least 10 metres.
• Yesterday and overnight 12mm of rain fell at the top of fire area, with around 5mm recorded lower down. Fire operations incident controller Mike Grant says the rainfall has helped reduce thermal activity and surface level hot spots, but had little effect on hot spots burning underground. There has also been some rock fall overnight on Dyers Pass Road as a result of the rain.
• Active hot spots are continuing to be seen – and this is likely to continue for another week or more. Fire crews are targeting hot spots in priority areas, including any located near unburnt vegetation and residential areas.
• Geotech assessments are being undertaken today in the Early Valley Road area to check on potential rockfall hazards.
Fire incident controller Mike Grant says firefighters are closely monitoring weather forecasts but do not anticipate any adverse weather impacts in the coming days.
Forecasts for the next 48 hours show relatively stable conditions with predominantly north-easterly winds, average wind speeds up to 24 km/h, and moderate temperatures ranging from about 12 to 19 degrees. Relative humidity levels also remain high at around 60 to 70%. No significant rain is forecast.
“These conditions are relatively benign, and as long as we can avoid hot, dry, blustery north-west winds, we can be confident of making good progress with our fire suppression efforts.
“We are continually monitoring forecasts and conditions on the ground, and we have the capacity to quickly ramp up our readiness should conditions change.”
We are into day 15 of fire operations and currently have 22 crews on the ground, with 150 firefighters from around New Zealand. Thermal imaging from drones is helping to identify focus areas for crews on the ground. Firefighting activity has also identified new hotspots so operations are likely to continue for several weeks.
We are aware of some public concern about a hotspot in the Christchurch Adventure Park and you may note fire crews monitoring this overnight.
A decision has not been made about reopening Dyers Pass Road at this point in time. There has been some rock fall on the road overnight as a result of the rain. While it was mostly smaller sized material we need to understand the scale, cause and, if necessary, put measures in place to manage any fu