Christchurch fire: Evacuations as blaze burns in Port Hills, some residents allowed to return

Helicopters are assisting in battling a major fire in Christchurch’s Port Hills that has claimed a small cabin and forced dozens of people to evacuate their homes.

The fire has burnt though around 15 hectares of land above Hillsborough since fire crews were first called just after 11pm.

People have been evacuated from Avoca Valley Rd and Port Hills Rd.

Civil Defence is now co-ordinating accommodation at St Martin’s School Hall for any evacuees who need assistance.

Helicopters are assisting ground crews and an aerial survey of the fire ground found the fire has burnt through about 15ha.

Residents evacuated from Port Hills Road still couldn’t return to their properties, while those from Avoca Valley Rd could, Fire and Emergency Area Commander Dave Stackhouse said.

No more evacuations are currently planned.

The flyover looked positive, Stackhouse said.

“Our crews did a fantastic job stopping the fire from spreading up the hills and potentially impacting homes.

“Our priority this morning is to keep it within the area with have currently contained it to.

“The weather is on our side, with only light winds forecast, this should help us in our work throughout today.”

Police were investigating after reports a flare was seen over the Port Hills before Wednesday’s fires began.

Stackhouse said earlier this morning at the height of the fire 15 appliances and crews were deployed to combat the fire.

He said 50 firefighters were on the ground and focusing on protecting structures along Port Hills Rd. They were working to stop the fire from spreading further up the hill.

Stackhouse said they would get a good understanding of the fire at first light this morning.

Two helicopters were to conduct an aerial survey and help ground crews with fighting and containing the fire this morning.

The fire started in the area of Alderson Ave, off the Port Hills Rd close to the suburb of Hillsborough, RNZ reported.

It was on the side of the hills facing the city, so Christchurch residents could see it and were phoning Fire and Emergency last ngiht, RNZ reported.

State Highway 76 has been shut off at Curries Road and motorists are being directed away from the area.

MetService meteorologist Francis Russell said after a few showers early this morning the forecast in Christchurch was for a fine day with light southerly winds.

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