'Extensive damage': Crankworx cancelled due to Port Hills fire

The Port Hills fire in Christchurch has been burning for days. Photo: Kirk Hargreaves via NZH
The Port Hills fire in Christchurch has been burning for days. Photo: Kirk Hargreaves via NZH
The Crankworx Summer Series international mountain biking event, scheduled to be held in Christchurch this weekend, has been cancelled due to the Port Hills fire.

The three-day event was set to include the best local and international mountain bikers on brand new courses at the Christchurch Adventure Park.

In a statement, Crankworx confirmed the Port Hills fire had “significantly impacted” the adventure park and announced a “complete cancellation” of the event.

“Despite exhaustive efforts by the Crankworx team, the CAP crew, and our friends at ChristchurchNZ, we have been left with no choice due to the extensive damage to the courses and ongoing safety concerns on the site, making it impossible to proceed with the event,” the statement read.

At its height, over 100 firefighters, 28 fire engines, 14 helicopters, and two planes were battling the fire on Thursday. The fire spread over an area of about 700ha.

“We are deeply saddened by this decision and recognise the impact it has on each of you. Our thoughts and support remain with the teams on the ground who are tirelessly engaged in firefighting, assessment, and containment efforts,” Crankworx said.

Colder weather combined with a small amount of rain overnight helped cool the fireground, but made for challenging, slippery conditions for firefighters on Tuesday.

“The crews have been working on hotspots, including skid sites, with heavy machinery in difficult conditions . . . but we’ve been working carefully to ensure our people stay safe,” said incident controller Steve Kennedy.

“We have made good progress and now have fewer hotspots to eliminate on Wednesday”.

Kennedy said Fire and Emergency NZ (Fenz) would review its requirement for resources and reduce the number of crews and equipment on the ground today to give volunteers a rest.

“People can be assured we will be able to respond quickly should the situation on the ground change,” he said.

Kennedy added rain this morning reduced the fire danger somewhat, but it wouldn’t last.

“The winds this afternoon will dry any moisture out very quicky and the fire danger conditions will be elevated once again.

“On the fireground we will be able to manage this with the crews we have, but it’s important for 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 in the day when it is cooler,” he said.

The Early Valley cordon was removed this afternoon but other cordons remain in place.

This morning, the Herald revealed residents near Hoon Hay Valley Rd saw two people around a walking track on the hill followed by smoke. The pair then drove off with residents taking photos of the car and sending them to the police.

A police spokesperson confirmed to the Herald police had spoken to those people, as well as the ones in the car.

Senior Sergeant Roy Appley said police have had a number of residents come to the base and advise them about “suspicious activity” that they’ve seen up to and including on the first fire day.

“While I can’t absolutely say about the cause of the fire yet, what we do say is that if you’ve got suspicions about some activity that you’re concerned about, please report it to the police as soon as possible, particularly any video footage of persons,” Appley said.

Crews continue to battle ‘deep-seated’ hotspots at Waikari fire

Firefighters continue to battle another blaze in North Canterbury that started on Sunday evening.

Crews today tackled deep-seated hotspots on the fireground, which has burnt 327ha with a perimeter of 8.6km.

Incident controller Des Irving said two crews patrolled the fireground last night and a Fenz drone will today carry out thermal imaging to identify any further hotspots to tackle.

“Three crews will be on site in the morning,” Irving said.

By Benjamin Plummer