Christchurch Civil Defence Update #12
Thursday 16 February 2017
Update on Port Hills Fire 10.30am
Fire area as of 7am
Port Hills fire - Multi agency update
Emergency services have been out since first light fighting the huge Port Hills fire concentrating their efforts on three fronts at Worsleys Road, Early Valley Road and Governors Bay.
The fire, which started in Marleys Hills on Monday night has now spread over 1800 hectares on the Port Hills. Reports on the number of houses destroyed or damaged have varied overnight. Please understand that this is an unfolding situation, but the Fire Service has confirmed that definitely five houses have been lost – three in Worsleys Road and two in Hoon Hay Valley Road. Emergency services are preparing to continue their operations for at least over the weekend and say the immediate emphasis is on directing the huge fire away from people and property.
The New Zealand Fire Service says that today’s firefighting effort included 15 helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, the maximum number that can safely be in the air at any one time, and ground firefighting crews from the New Zealand Fire Service, Department of Conservation, territorial authorities and volunteers.
Helicopters have been brought in from throughout the South Island and out of town fire service staff from both Nelson and Timaru and are boosting local resources. Twenty-one urban appliances are on the Summit Road, eight on Worsleys Road and 10 on Early Valley Road.
There are concerns about the short-term weather forecast with today’s north-east wind today expected to further drive the fronts. It is hoped a south-west change predicted for tomorrow will lower temparatures and humidity, slowing the fire’s progress.
There is a total fire ban in plan in North and Canterbury. Fire Region Manager Steve Turek says it is important that there is no type of fire lit so fire resources can remain concentrated on the major fire.
Christchurch Police have dedicated 50 staff working around the clock on the operation. Police assisted by New Zealand Defence Force staff have managed the evacuation of residents in at-risk areas. 400 homes have been evacuated by police with hundreds of other residents choosing to self-evacuate.
No evacuations are underway at this time, but police warn the situation is extremely volatile and should the fire change direction, people may have to leave at short notice.
Superintendent John Price of Christchurch Police says patrols are also working around the clock in both areas at risk and those evacuation. “We are providing reassurance to residents about evacuation, but also to others that we are keeping a watchful eye on their property,” he said.
Police are also checking on the safety of contractors working on the fire, logging everyone who goes into and out of the cordon.
The main message remains - the police are stressing that it is imperative that members of the public keep away from the hills. People “rubber-necking” are disrupting the emergency response and making it harder for police and fire services to do their jobs.
The New Zealand Defence Force had 36 staff working alongside emergency services last night and another 25 have joined the operation this morning.
Welfare and health agencies are on standby reading to step in at a moment’s notice. Christchurch District Health Board reported no overnight admissions due to respiratory issues. St John had dealt with a number of minor issues.
Welfare Centre - Te Hapua Halswell Centre and Nga Hau e Wha National Marae
Around 11 evacuees are currently at the Te Hapua Halswell Centre. Catering is being provided with donations from the local supermarket assisting.
While the Welfare Centre has been set up in the community room at Te Hapua Halswell Centre, the facility’s library and pool are operating as usual.
A welfare centre also remains open at Nga Hau e Wha National Marae on Pages Road. Welfare agencies will provide updates on how to access a range of services today.
The public are encouraged to follow official updates on the Christchurch City Council’s Newsline website and social media, as well as other emergency services updates.
STATE OF EMERGENCY DECLARED AT 1700 FEB 15TH
• If you are at all worried or uncomfortable remaining in your home, please evacuate. You can go to either of the city welfare centres for assistance.
• People are advised to stay away from the hills to allow emergency services access and ensure swift evacuation.
Orion remain on full alert, ready to respond to any issues with power supply as a result of the fires. It is possible that there will be further outages until the fire is fully extinguished.
• Firefighters are at the Christchurch Adventure Park, however the fire has not yet reached the village but is under considerable threat.
• If people are worried about their safety they should to leave their homes. If widespread evacuation is needed, emergency services will inform residents directly.
Road closure information:
• Cashmere Rd is closed west of Kaiwara St to Kennedys Bush Rd.
• Worsleys Rd is closed from Cashmere Rd
• Hoon Hay Valley Rd is closed.
• Kennedys Bush Road is closed form the roundabout with Rock Hill Drive. This includes the southbound cycle track
• Worsleys Track from Worlseys Road is closed
• Dyers Pass Road is closed between Hackthorne Road to Governors Bay Road. Use the Lyttelton Tunnel or Gebbies Pass as the alternate route
• Summit Road is closed between Gebbies Pass and Rapaki Track
• Old Tai Tapu Road is closed between Osterholts Road and Early Valley Road
• Early Valley Road is closed
• Holmes Road is closed..
Council updates here: https://www.ccc.govt.nz/the-council/newsline/show/1406
Full health warning here:
UPdates from Civil Defence here: https://web.facebook.com/ChristchurchCDEM