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Rural Fire crews continuing efforts

11 January 2005

Rural Fire crews continuing efforts

Rural Fire crews are continuing efforts to extinguish a large number of hot spots remaining from a forestry fire started on Sunday afternoon near the beach at Spencer Park in north-east Christchurch.

About 50 Rural Fire people are involved today, with support from the Fire Service. Since the fire began, trained staff have been sent to assist from Christchurch City and Waimakariri District councils, City Care, Selwyn Plantation Board, volunteer Rural Fire brigades, Environment Canterbury and the Department of Conservation. They are rostered into daytime and overnight shifts, with smaller numbers on the fire ground overnight. Also involved are bulldozer and digger operators.

Christchurch Principal Rural Fire Officer Keith Marshall says the effort to pinpoint and make safe all hot spots in the 30ha burnt will probably take several more days. He estimates that, so far, about 30 per cent of the area has been cleared.

A Fire Service pumping point on Lower Styx Mill Road has been moved to the eastern end of Hayters Road this morning and the crossing point, which had been slowing traffic, has been removed.

With fairly strong nor-west winds forecast by MetService for this afternoon, temperatures over 30 and low humidity levels, Mr Marshall says many of the crews on the ground will be watching for flare-ups and making sure the fire does not move into surrounding forestry. A south-west change is expected early tomorrow morning, with some rain.

"We've done a lot of work to widen breaks around the fire and crews have been tackling hot spots, but there's still a lot of spots which could come back to life," he says.

The northern half of Bottle Lake Forest Park remains a dangerous area because of heavy equipment movements and tree felling and the public should only use the southern end of the park, Mr Marshall says.

Other crews continue to monitor the areas of two other recent fires in the area.

Call for information: The cause of the fire has not been established. New Brighton Police want to talk to anyone who was in the forest area near the beach south of Spencer Park from around mid-afternoon on Sunday, 8 January.

City maintenance: Because of the number of City Care staff involved in combating the fire, there are places around the city where some general open-space maintenance is not being done. It is expected this will be the case for at least another week. The company is doing its best to maintain essential services such as bin emptying and toilet cleaning but asks the public's understanding about other work which it cannot complete. Its staff assisting the Rural Fire effort are working 12-14 hour shifts and even after the fire ground is made safe will need time off before returning to normal duties.


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