24 Feb 2017

Firefighters to work at Port Hills for 4 more weeks

6:55 am on 24 February 2017

Firefighters could be working in Christchurch's Port Hills area for up to four weeks, residents have been told.

A helicopter flies in a load of water in a monsoon bucket during fire fighting efforts last Thursday in the Port Hills during the Christchurch fires. 16 February 2017

A helicopter flies in a load of water in a monsoon bucket during firefighting efforts last Thursday in the Port Hills. Photo: RNZ/ Brad White

Hundreds of residents were briefed by Civil Defence staff at meetings at Kennedys Bush, Hoon Hay Valley and Worsleys Roads last night.

The residents were told 90 percent of the fire perimeter, which stretches about 30 kilometres, is now controlled.

One hundred firefighters and several helicopters will still work to put out any further flare-ups.

Civil Defence said hotspots have cooled to about 100°C, but still posed a risk.

It said there were several flare-ups yesterday. More are expected in the coming weeks.


Civil Defence incident controller Rob Hands talks to firefighters battling Christchurch's Port Hills blaze. Photo: RNZ

Civil Defence advised residents to conserve water, as workers struggled to keep the reservoirs used by the firefighters full.

Meanwhile, authorities are expected to meet today to discuss whether cordons will open to the public.

Only residents in cordoned off areas have been allowed home. They had to prove their identity before going through the cordons.

Last night, residents were told Civil Defence would discuss how long the cordons would be in place and whether the cordons would move further up the hills, or be taken down completely.

Rory Creagh, who lives on Kennedys Bush Road, said the cordons had proved problematic.

"I definitely agree with the point that we don't want people walking up the hill. The best way to do that, I think, is to move the cordon back to the roundabout at the top where the track starts, but to enforce it properly," he said.

"It's not being enforced properly... the people operating it, every time you come up you get a different response, they couldn't find my name on the list, but they let me through anyway, it's a pointless exercise to go through.

"They need to enforce it to stop "fire tourists" as they call them. It took me 15 minutes to get up the hill because we had so many people taking pictures of the fire."

Residents were told they could apply for financial support to cover the cost of accommodation while they were evacuated.

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