21 Feb 2017

Port Hills fire: State of emergency extended

5:38 pm on 21 February 2017

A state of emergency covering Christchurch City and Selwyn District has been extended until next week.

The announcement was made at a media briefing at midday after Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel and Selwyn mayor Sam Broughton took advice from the emergency agencies involved.

A state of emergency was declared on last Thursday night. It was due to expire this Thursday. It has been extended until Tuesday, but could be terminated earlier.

Ms Dalziel said while the fire was contained, a potentially serious situation in the Port Hills remained.

She said the environment remained volatile inside the controlled area, with extensive hotspots to deal with and a risk that further evacuations could be needed.

Residents of areas still behind cordons could get access to their homes some time tomorrow.

Two cordons - on Kennedys Bush Road (83 homes) and Hoon Hay Valley Road (19 homes) - were lifted for residents at 8am.

Civil Defence officials said cordon locations continued to be reviewed based on the fire risk and ground assessments.

Cordons remained on Dyers Pass Road at the entrances to Victoria Park and Worsleys Road, where 51 homeowners could not yet return.

But Civil Defence Controller Anne Columbus said she hoped that would change.

"I think there's some positive indication that we might be in a position to do restricted access for residents only in the next 24 hours."

Latest information:

  • At 8am today, authorities lifted two cordons to allow residents on Kennedys Bush Rd and Hoon Hay Valley Rd to return home.
  • They were evacuated nearly a week ago. Access is barred for the general public.
  • Worsleys Rd remains cordoned off, affecting 51 households.
  • Fire crews are continuing efforts to identify and douse hot spots.
  • Mayor Lianne Dalziel yesterday took responsibility for poor communication with affected residents about whether their homes were damaged, the ongoing fire situation and when they could return home.
  • Ms Dalziel has promised a review of the timing of a state of emergency being declared, after criticism from acting Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee.
  • The fire has heightened the rockfall risk on the Port Hills. Most walking and biking tracks remain closed.
  • A funeral was held yesterday for a helicopter pilot, former SAS soldier Steve Askin, who died in a crash while he fought the blaze last Tuesday.
  • A total fire ban is in place from South Canterbury to Hurunui.
  • Orion reports that around 22 customers remain without power in the Port Hills, around Hoon Hay Valley Road, Burkes Bush, Marleys Hill and Worsleys Road.
  • Smoke could be visible at the Christchurch Adventure Park, the top of Early Valley Road and towards Holmeswood Rise.
  • If strong winds hit, dust from the ash could go across the city.

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