22 Feb 2017

Residents looking for information regarding the Port Hills fire, see this story for useful links.

Port Hills fire updates

Sign up for the latest Port Hills fire updates for affected residents. Fire truck on site on the Port hills(external link)

This interactive map(external link) shows the Port Hills fire hot spots and the latest cordon information.

For a list of the up-to-date road closure information visit Transport for Christchurch.(external link)

View the Port Hills Fire Welfare Information [PDF, 227 KB].

Cordons update Wednesday 23 Feb 11:30am

Residents of the Governors Bay area have inquired about the Dyers Pass Road cordon. 
Hazard assessment work is continuing on the slopes above this road, including for the risk that large rocks and trees could fall on the road.

There are still significant hotspots in the Marleys Hill area that are under active fire management. The condition of the road is also being assessed.We understand the frustration this road closure is causing and crews are working to open the road as soon as possible. Unfortunately, at this stage we are unable to give residents a timeframe for its reopening.

Three cordons, at Worsley Road, Kennedys Bush Rd and Hoon Hay Valley Rd, have been relaxed. 
All non-residents who need access – such as tradespeople, insurance representatives and other professional services, and those who own land within a cordon area but live elsewhere – should report to the cordon sign-in area to gain an entry permit. Residents are no longer required to meet visitors before they proceed through the cordon.
There is no access for members of the public.

Aerial operations

As the fire becomes more manageable air operations are being reduced. Today there will be four aircraft operating. Drones are continuing to be used for thermal imaging to locate hotspots that still pose a risk of flare-up.Please remember, the fire area is a no-fly zone. This rule applies to all aircraft not involved in the firefighting effort, including private drones.

Fire operations

Fire services advise that 90% of the fire perimeter area is now considered to be controlled. Controlled is defined as bare earth or blacked out ground for at least 10 metres. 
About 100 people are working in the fire area today, in both land-based and aerial operations. While most of the fire perimeter area is defined as controlled, within this area there are many hotspots which could potentially flare up under some weather conditions and these are the focus of much of the fire operation.

Drones continue to be used to assist with the fire operation. They were used overnight to gather thermal and infrared hotspot imaging information. The drones provide accurate information about hotspot locations which was given to fire crews to allow them to accurately identify which areas should be targeted to reduce fire activity. Fire services are also looking at whether the drones may be used during the daytime. For safety reasons, the drones are not used overhead inhabited properties. 
Thermal imaging continues to show a steady reduction in hot spots across large parts of the fire area, as a result of work by fire crews on the ground. However there are still a number of locations with where hot spots are continuing to be detected. New hotspots are continuing to be mapped and identified. 
Fire crews are also working to identify any unburnt vegetation within the fire area and to reduce the fire risk associated with these areas by creating fire breaks or removing vegetation.

Smoke and dust

Fire suppression activities may generate dust or smoke. Smoke concentrations are forecast to continue to reduce as the fire hot spots are cooled. Concentrations will be high near and above the fire ground and may spread to neighbourhoods closest to the fire. In higher winds dust may pick up from the fire ground and get carried off the hill. Today, the projected trajectory for dust and/or smoke is towards the western suburbs of the city with highest concentrations at the base of the hill. 
Health effects from short term exposure to smoke the will be little more than a nuisance. It may irritate the eyes, nose throat or airways. People with pre-existing respiratory illness or heart disease may experience a worsening or recurrence of their condition. If you are troubled by smoke or dust close your windows and doors, and avoid going outside until it abates. 
Anyone experiencing health issues relating to smoke or dust should phone their own GP team. After hours a nurse will answer the phone and can advise you what to do or where to go.

Fire update

• The fire perimeter is around 30 kilometres and covers 2075 hectares
• Geotechnical assessments are continuing on the slopes above residential areas. While these slopes appear sound at present, there is concern this could change with heavy rain.
• The potential for fire flare-ups remains. Information collected after infrared imaging carried out the morning of Thursday 23 Feb will be used to update fire-risk models.
• More detailed assessment have been carried out on properties directly affected by the fire.

As of Wednesday 22 February the Rural Fire Authority reports that 81 per cent of the fire perimeter area is now considered controlled. “Controlled” is defined as bare earth or blacked-out ground for at least 10 meters. Fire crews will continue fire suppression work today and are aiming to have nearly all of the fire perimeter controlled by the end of the day. However, it is still an active fire. Around 250 fire and emergency services staff are on the ground today, including those involved in aerial operations.

Drones were used over a section of the fire ground but not above occupied properties, for safety reasons. The drones were used to gather thermal and infrared hotspot imaging information, which allows fire crews to accurately target areas of fire activity. Suppression of hotspots has been particularly focused near residential areas, and there has been a significant reduction in hotspot activity in these locations. However, new hotspots continue to be identified, and the Christchurch Adventure Park has a number of active hotspots which will take some time to suppress.

The drones will continue to be used overnight to help identify hotspots. They will also be used to provide more accurate information about the fire perimeter and identify any unburnt vegetation. Helicopters are also being used to provide thermal hotspot information from a higher altitude. A no fly zone is still in place. This includes members of the public using drones due to the danger they present to helicopters.

Worsleys Road cordon status - Update 12pm

Some people have reported receiving a text at around 6.50am this morning (Wednesday), supposedly from Police or Civil Defence, stating the Worsleys Road cordon would be completely open from midday today. That is incorrect and did not originate from either Police or Civil Defence. Accurate information about the Worsleys Road cordon status is as advised in previous updates – the cordon remains in place, with managed access for residents and landowners, as well as non-residents who have a legitimate need for access. There is no access for the general public until further notice.

Cordon access update 11:15am Wednesday 22 Feb

Three cordons have been relaxed since Tuesday 21 Feb to allow residents and landowners to return to their properties. Access by the general public to these cordons is still restricted until further notice. The cordons are:

  • Worsleys Road
  • Kennedys Bush Road
  • Hoon Hay Valley Road.

Civil Defence has now updated the process by which non-residents gain access to restricted areas, in order to make it easier for those with a legitimate need to go through the cordons.

  • All non-residents who need access – such as tradespeople, insurance representatives and other professional services, and those who own land within a cordon area but live elsewhere – should report to the cordon sign-in area to gain an entry permit. Residents are no longer required to meet visitors before they proceed through the cordon.
  • This means non-residents are no longer required to travel to Princess Margaret Hospital to gain access through a cordon, and residents are no longer required to meet them there.

Civil Defence Controller David Adamson says: “The registration process is still necessary because all of these newly reoccupied areas are close to the active fire-ground and it is essential Civil Defence knows who is within the cordons and how to contact them at any given time.”

At 9am today (Wednesday 22 Feb'), the Worsleys Road cordon will be lifted up to 353 Worsleys Road, where Worsleys Track begins. The cordon will open for residents only, allowing them to return home.

There remains a small number of properties located on Dyers Pass and Summit roads that are cordoned off due to ongoing fire risk and other safety concerns. Civil Defence Welfare staff will be contacting these residents directly.

What residents need to know:

  • Residents will be checked into the cordon by police
  • You must present a photo ID, such as a driver’s licence or passport
  • Please be patient if you face a wait at the cordon. Returning residents will be allowed through as soon as possible
  • Access is open to Worsleys Road residents only
  • Registration for non-residents (e.g. insurance representatives, electricians and/or trades people) wishing to access the Worsleys Road cordon is open from 7.30am to 6.30pm each day, until further notice, in the Princess Margaret Hospital car park, Cashmere. All cordoned residents, including Worsleys Road residents, are required to meet these visitors there. 
  • Access to cordoned areas by the general public is restricted at this time until further notice.

Earlier on Tuesday 21 Feb' two cordons opened to residents only, allowing them to return home. The cordons are:

  • Kennedys Bush Road
  • Hoon Hay Valley Road

Residents are being given priority access to these areas. All non-residents (e.g. insurance representatives, electricians and/or trades people) need to obtain permits for access via Princess Margaret Hospital on Cashmere Road and arrange to meet residents there until further notice. Access by the general public is restricted at this time until further notice.

The access permits are available between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

Fire damage to trees

Residents whose properties were directly affected by the fire should engage a qualified arborist to check all mature trees. The Council’s arborists have been checking trees on roadsides and many are being felled because of fire damage. Civil Defence strongly recommends that people who have regained access to their properties with burnt trees do not go near the trees until they have been inspected by an experienced arborist. This is for their own safety.

Damage to septic tanks

Residents whose properties were directly affected by the fire should engage a qualified plumber to check the condition of their septic tanks.

State of Emergency extended

The State of Emergency covering Christchurch City and Selwyn District has been extended, Mayor Lianne Dalziel announced today.

Mayor Dalziel and Selwyn Mayor Sam Broughton took advice from Rural Fire, Fire, Police and Civil Defence in making the decision.

Mayor Dalziel said that while the fire had been “contained” in technical terms and all resources would be available regardless of the state of emergency, there was still a potentially serious situation in the Port Hills.

“The fire is still being fought on the ground and in the air. The environment remains volatile inside the controlled area. The fire is not out and there are extensive hotspots to deal with. There is always the risk that further evacuations could be required.”

Some residents are still unable to return to their homes and many people are still experiencing the effects of the fire, ranging from total loss of their homes to other property damage and personal trauma associated with this. Accordingly, agencies need to respond to their ongoing welfare needs.
Public access to a large area remains restricted.

“In short – this remains a serious situation that requires a significant and coordinated multi-agency response,” the Mayor said. “While the State of Emergency terminates tomorrow evening, we are mindful of the significance of 22 February to the Canterbury community and as a result we agreed it was appropriate to consider the status of the State of Emergency today.”

The extension automatically lasts for seven days, but can be terminated earlier.

The Joint Committee will meet on Friday to consider the transition to recovery. That will be an appropriate time to reconsider the need for the State of Emergency to remain in place.

Urgent accommodation 

Residents who are unable to return to their homes and need temporary accommodation can call Christchurch Civil Defence on 03 941 8803. A Christchurch Civil Defence staff member will assist residents to find an appropriate place to stay. Wherever possible we are asking that residents continue to stay with family and friends, so this service is available for those who need it most.

Homes affected

More detailed assessment has been carried out on houses directly affected by the fire. Information is as follows:

  • 9 homes destroyed
  • 2 homes with partial damage. Damage includes things like cracked windows, heat damage
  • 3 properties with damage to other external structures e.g sheds or outbuildings.

Cordons

There remains a small number of properties located on Dyers Pass and Summit roads that are cordoned off due to ongoing fire risk and other safety concerns. Civil Defence Welfare staff will be contacting these residents directly.

The Port Hills fire.

The information centre set up at Te Hapua Halswell centre is now closed.

A number of road closures are still in place as a result of the Port Hills Fire. For the latest road closure information go to Transport for Christchurch(external link).

Information for animal owners returning home

The following advice is for animal owners returning to properties after the Port Hills fires.

  • As you return you may find that pets, livestock or wildlife may have sustained injuries due to the fires. Below are the details of who you should contact;
  • Your pet(s) and/or livestock: Your local veterinarian is on standby to assess your animals. Contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns relating to animal health
  • Stray animals: If you find animals that you do not own and are in need of immediate medical attention please take a small animal to your local veterinarian or contact the Canterbury SPCA (03 349 7057). For large animals, contact the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) on 0800 00 83 33
  • Wildlife: If you find injured wildlife please contact the South Island wildlife hospital based at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve (03 359 6226)
  • Lost and found pets - If you have lost or found a pet you can advertise at www.petsonthenet.co.nz(external link) for free if it is related to the Port Hills fires.

Fire assessment

Geotechnical assessments have been carried out this morning on the slopes above residential areas. While the slopes above these areas currently appear sound, this could change if we got heavy rain. Controller John Mackie says this assessment is a positive step towards reducing the risk associated with the fire, however there is still potential for a flare-up or for the fire to spread at this point in time. Infra-red imaging was also carried out this morning and results are being analysed. The results will be used to update the fire-risk models with this new information.


Risk assessment report

Decisions have been based on detailed fire behaviour predictions. This has been documented in a scientific report used to support fire risk assessment for residents’ access cordons and road closures.

View a copy of the report [PDF, 83 KB].

Access to properties within the cordon

Controller John Mackie says: “We don’t see any likelihood of controlled access to homes on Monday 20 February. This will be reviewed again on Tuesday the 21st February.”

There is a process for people whose homes still remain behind cordons. They can register to gain access to their properties and collect essential supplies when it is safe to do so.

Access to properties within the cordon

People can call the Christchurch City Council Customer Centre on 941 8999 or 0800 800 169 to register or head online to fill out a request, go to ccc.govt.nz/evacuated-homeowners-access-registration/

People who register will be contacted and those who are able to go to their property will be accompanied by a police officer.

The map below shows Port Hills fire hot spots identified by infrared imagery above and below ground. It also show where the current cordons are. For a full interactive map visit http://arcg.is/2kHMIqo(external link)

Welfare Centres

Welfare Centres set up for evacuated residents have now closed as on-site accommodation,including Te Hapua Halswell Centre which is now closed as well. 

Welfare Centre teams are grateful for the offers of help they have received, but are now asking people not to make any further donations of food or supplies as they are unable to distribute it effectively. 

Temporary accommodation

A reminder that residents who are unable to return to their homes and need temporary accommodation can call Christchurch Civil Defence on 03 941 8803. A Christchurch Civil Defence staff member will assist residents to find an appropriate place to stay. Wherever possible we are asking that residents continue to stay with family and friends, so this service is available for those who need it most.

The Fire Service

  • Ensure facilities are safe (Gas/Electricity/Oil). If any doubt, don’t switch on and contact a qualified tradesperson
  • If you suspect a gas leak call 111
  • Ensure flammable materials are kept away from buildings. Keep vegetation low and tidy close to buildings. Refer to FireSmart home owners manual(external link) [PDF 2.44MB] for more details
  • When you get back into your property, check your smoke alarms are working and that you have an escape plan. Refer to Fire Safety Advise - Inside your home(external link) for more details
  • If there are still power cuts at your property, use BBQ’s appropriately. Do not use indoors and check for gas leaks before use. Use torches rather than naked flames.

Recreational Access to the Port Hills Area

Civil Defence is recommending no recreational activities, such as camping, cycling or picnics, take place within the yellow line on this map(external link).

The yellow line boundary, which was modelled on the current fire situation and weather forecasts, shows where further fire spread and smoke could pose a risk and cause health concerns.

It is important for non-residents to stay away from the marked area to allow access for emergency services who are working in this area. 

Visit the Canterbury District Health Board's website (external link)for information on smoke inhalation. 

Your Welfare

People can call 0800 777 846 for support and general practice medical centres are open for those who feel unwell or unable to cope. It is normal to feel anxious or stressed during abnormal events, and talking about how you feel to someone you trust can help. Advice can be found online at AllRight(external link)

People with financial needs can contact Work and Income (0800 559 009) or go into any site in Christchurch. Civil Defence payments are available, more information can be found here(external link)

Power Supply

Orion continues to closely monitor Christchurch's power supply and respond to any issues arising as a result of the fires continuing in the Port Hills.

For updates on power outages around the city visit Orion(external link) or call 03 363 9898 for more information.

Fire ban

The National Rural Fire Authority has put a total fire ban in place from South Canterbury to Hurunui.

Metro bus

Blue Line - all trips will end at Princess Margaret Hospital, no trips will travel to Cashmere Hill.

Please check the Metroinfo(external link) website for more information.

Road closures

Emergency Services continue to request that people stay well away from the area and off the roads so that they can do their job and keep people safe. The Christchurch Transport Operations Centre (CTOC) has released a list of closed roads and urged residents to respect the closures as emergency services battle the blazes.

Traffic updates available directly from Transport for Christchurch(external link).