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Update on Port Hills Fire 7.30pm

Update on Port Hills Fire 7.30pm

Christchurch Civil Defence Update #15

Thursday 16 February 2017

Update on Port Hills Fire 7.30pm

Key points

• United States Coast Guard heavy icebreaker USCGC Polar Star offers to help

• Hercules heads to Australia to collect fire retardant

• 14 helicopters and 3 fixed wing aircraft were used today

• Special fire pods are being used to shoot high-pressure water into the ground to extinguish roots burning below the surface

• Almost 400 people have been on the ground fighting the blaze

• Efforts are focused on controlling the fire – it is not possible to assess the status of individual properties at this stage

• Cordons remain in place with police and Defence Force staff patrolling

Offers of assistance have been received from the United States and Australia to support the Port Hills fire response.

Christchurch Civil Defence controller Dave Adamson welcomed the offer of assistance.

Air Commodore Kevin McEvoy, the Acting Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said an Air Force C-130 Hercules strategic airlift aircraft left for Australia this afternoon to pick up five pallets of firefighting foam and other fire-retardant materials.

A detachable fire pod is also being shipped from Wellington this evening, in addition to the four NZDF fire pods currently being used to fight the Christchurch fires. The pods can be transported on a variety of vehicles and use an ultra high-pressure hose with a pointed nozzle that can pierce the ground and douse burning roots.

An additional fire response team made up of four experienced firefighters has been sent to join the six Army firefighters currently working with Selwyn fire authorities.

Mr Adamson said emergency services recognise that many of the residents evacuated are concerned about the condition of their properties in the fire zone and are anxious to return home. At this stage the Emergency Operations Centre has received no information about the status of individual homes.

Much of the area behind cordons is very dangerous and the priority for all agencies is to get the fire under control.

Firefighters are working on the ground and from the air, doing everything possible to keep the fire away from houses.

“Police have advised that it is expected that a large number of homes will have suffered damage from smoke, heat and fire. The number of damaged homes in total will not be known until the fire emergency has ended.

“We are aware that this is an extremely anxious time for residents who have had to leave their homes and we are working with other agencies to arrange for this information to be passed on to homeowners in the affected areas as soon as the information becomes available.”

Police have advised that all current cordons will remain in place tonight and into tomorrow. Police say that residents who chose to remain behind the cordons now have a special provision to exit the cordons and return. To re-enter they must register at the cordon point and provide photo identification. They must also carry documentation proving their occupancy such as a bill or rates invoice.

Power supply

Around 128 customers remain without power in the Port Hills area. The power supply has been maintained to the rest of the city throughout the day, and Orion continues to closely monitor Christchurch's power supply and respond to any issues arising as a result of the fires continuing in the Port Hills.

Lines in the fire affected area in the Port Hills remain off grid, and power continues to be rerouted, including through Orion's new underground, Northern Loop cable.

Orion asks residents and businesses to conserve power where ever possible, to reduce the load on the network while it is in contingency mode.

It is possible that there will be further outages until the fires are fully extinguished. Orion urges residents in the Port Hills area to take particular care around electricity at this time.

For updates on power outages around the city visit www.oriongroup.co.nz or call 03 363 9898 for more information.

Welfare

The teams providing welfare support are truly grateful for offers of help for services, but there is no need at the moment – the teams are well-resourced.

People can call 0800 777 846 for support and general practice medical centres are open for those who feel unwell or unable to cope. It is normal to feel anxious or stressed during abnormal events, and talking about how you feel to someone you trust can help. Advice can be found online at:

http://allright.org.nz/articles/practical-tips-coping-disaster/

https://www.facebook.com/allrightnz/?fref=ts

People with financial needs can contact Work and Income (0800 559 009) or go into any site in Christchurch. Civil Defence payments are available, more information can be found here:

https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/about-work-and-income/news/2017/2017/christchurch-fires.html

Firefighting efforts

More than 390 firefighters have been fighting the fire today, including 26 rural fire crews with more than 200 personnel between them. The fire service has 62 crews with 190 pumps and tankers, and more than 160 firefighters on the ground.

The fire service is asking people to stay away from the area so that the fire crews can do their work safely. The terrain is difficult and challenging, posing a risk to firefighters.

There are 14 helicopters flying and three fixed wing aircraft on the scene.

Fire ban

National Rural Fire Authority has put a total fire ban in place from South Canterbury to Hurunui.

Road closures

• Cashmere Rd is closed between Hendersons Rd and Kaiwara St.

• Penruddock Rise is also closed at Cashmere Rd

• Worsleys Rd is closed at Cashmere Rd

• Hoon Hay Valley Rd is closed at Cashmere

• Kennedys Bush Road is closed at Cashmere Rd

• Sutherland Road is closed at Cashmere Rd

• Worsleys Track from Worlseys Road is closed

• Dyers Pass Road is closed between Hackthorne Road to Governors Bay Road. Use the Lyttelton Tunnel or Gebbies Pass as the alternate route.

• Summit Road is closed between Gebbies Pass and Rapaki Track

• Old Tai Tapu Road is closed between Osterholts Road and Early Valley Road.

• Early Valley Road is closed at Old Tai Tapu Rd


ends

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