16 Feb 2017

What we know about the Port Hills fire

10:39 am on 16 February 2017

Here's what we know so far about the massive fire blazing in Christchurch's Port Hills. For live updates, head over to RNZ. 


Two fires broke out in Christchurch’s Port Hills on Monday - one on Early Valley Rd and another in the Marley Hill area. 

The fires have claimed one life, after a helicopter helping to fight the fire crashed on Tuesday, killing the pilot, 38-year-old David Steven Askin of Waimakariri.

Two adults and a child have been treated for non-serious injuries, and a fire fighter has been treated for smoke inhalation. A 9-year-old boy was treated for asthma, exacerbated by smoke. 

About 450 properties had been evacuated, many are still at risk with some damaged amd 11 destroyed. 

Henry Reese, 22, and his family were evacuated from the home his parents have lived in for 25 years about 3pm yesterday and saw their neighbours' home burn to the ground about 6pm. 

When daylight broke today, Reese saw his own home go up in flames. 

Henry Reese, centre, watches his family home burn.

Henry Reese, centre, watches his family home burn. Photo: RNZ / Joelle Dally

Some livestock has been killed.

Last night the two fires merged into one. Today the blaze is covering an area of more than 1800 hectares (yes, 1800 hectares, as in 1800 rugby fields) and growing.

Fifteen helicopters - five with monsoon buckets - and two fixed-wing aircraft, will be used to fight the fire from the air.

More than 200 firefighters are on the ground. A group of 86 made up of police and defence force staff worked on the fire response overnight

The current focus is on Victoria Park. Worsley Spur and Early Valley Rd are also focus areas and there is the potential for the fire to beat containment lines remains. 

There are concerns that wind will pick up, and further fan the flames. No rain is forecast for Christchurch today, but humidity will stay high. 

States of emergency have been declared in both Christchurch and Selwyn, two schools are closed and about 100 houses are without power. 

Firefighters have no idea how the blazes started. This afternoon, Prime Minister Bill English said the fact the two fires started in such a short space of time seemed suspicious. 

The smoke can be seen from space.