Port Hills fire: Time for a cool change

Crews continued to find and extinguish hotspots during a windy day. Photo: Canterbury Fire and...
Crews continued to find and extinguish hotspots during a windy day. Photo: Canterbury Fire and Emergency
Port Hills firefighters will take advantage of a welcomed southerly, expected to cool down smouldering land and help them identify hotspots after a huge blaze.

The 650ha fire broke out last Wednesday and forced the evacuation of 110 homes in Christchurch and neighbouring Selwyn District. 

Work continued today in hot, windy conditions to identify and put out hotspots and firebreaks. 

Port Hills fire Incident Commander Steve Kennedy said 100 firefighters and 20 support staff worked alongside five helicopters and heavy machinery, making "good progress" to put out hot spots and flare-ups.

"We expect a southerly wind change this evening which will assist crews with cooling the land and this will also help the infrared cameras to identify hot spots," he said. 

Tuesday was forecast to be cloudy, MetService said, with showers clearing early in the morning before becoming fine.

But it will be much cooler that today's high of 27degC, with just 18degC forecast.  Fresh southwesterlies would turn lighter easterly in the afternoon.

Crews, including a drone crew, would be on the incident ground overnight and operations would continue tomorrow.

Mr Kennedy said the fire risk remained extremely high and reminded people to stay very aware about the work they do during the day.

Hot-work or spark-generating work, which includes mowing lawns, should be done earlier on when it is cooler.

"Our firefighters have put in a huge effort today. It has been hard work for them in hot, dry, windy and dusty conditions, and they’ve done a terrific job," he said. 

"Many of the crews are volunteers and I want to thank their employers and families and whānau for enabling them to come out and do the great work they’re doing."

- ODT Online