17 Feb 2017

Christchurch fire contained, but volatile

10:23 am on 17 February 2017

A raging fire in Christchurch, which has destroyed homes and seen thousands evacuated, has been contained - but the situation remains volatile.


Two fires broke out in the Port Hills on Monday. Yesterday they merged into one creating a 2000 hectare blaze exacerbated by high winds and dry conditions.

Eleven homes have been destroyed and more than 1000 people evacuated from the area, as nearly 400 firefighters battle the blaze.

Overnight, crews dealt with minor flare ups, and today Christchurch civil defence controller Dave Adamson told RNZ that some progress had finally been made, with the fire being contained within a 30km perimeter.

"We have had significant fire breaks created with heavy machinery and the firefighting effort has targeted the perimeter," Adamson said.

"While there are still areas burning out of control, the fire is contained."

Overseas reinforcements from the US Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Star helped battle the blaze alongside firefighters, police and New Zealand defense force staff.

An RNZAF Hercules is due to arrive today with fire retardant brought from Australia.



Speaking to Guyon Espiner on Morning Report, University of Canterbury Student Volunteer Army president Jared McMahon said the army was waiting to see what they could do to help.

And they have plenty of spare hands. 

"Last year we had about 2500 students that were involved in some capacity with the Student Volunteer Army. This year we're hoping to increase that significantly," he said. 

He said the army could offer help in the aftermath of the fire with anything from tree planting to companionship for those in need. 

The army was founded after the September 2010 Christchurch earthquake, when more than11,000 University of Canterbury students became involved in city wide clean-up and support.

To get in touch, email info@sva.org.nz or visit their Facebook page