Evacuations continue as a result of Port Hills fire

  • South Island

450 properties have officially been evacuated as a result of the Port Hills Fire and emergency response agencies are meeting this morning to discuss the status of the fire.

Police are also stressing that members of the public keep away from the Port Hills and say “rubber-neckers” are causing problems for emergency services in the area.

The Ministry of Education has confirmed that Cashmere Primary School is closed until further notice.

According to the Christchurch City Council approximately 125 customers still have no power in the area.

The fire spans around 1800 hectares of land and recent reports say it has spread to the harbour side of Sugarloaf.

The council says seven houses are believed to have been damaged by the fire since yesterday, on Early Valley Road and Worsley Road.

Christchurch Civil Defence Controller David Adamson says “the fire now spans a large front and all agencies are coordinating very well to fight the blaze and support the community. However, the situation remains very serious. Police and the Defence Force have had a huge job overnight with evacuations, the setting-up of cordons around key areas and security patrols of areas that have been evacuated.”

Approximately 400 households have been evacuated in the areas around Victoria Park/Dyers Pass Road, Worsleys Road, Westmorland and Kennedys Bush.

In addition to rural fire staff, a group of 86 made up of 50 New Zealand Police and 36 New Zealand Defence Force personnel are working on the Port Hills Fire response. They are doing evacuations, joint patrols and reassuring people in the areas impacted by the fires.

The Port Hill fires have now merged into one, developing significantly during yesterday afternoon and evening. The estimated area of the fire is now in excess of 1850ha and still growing. 

The fire has crossed Dyers Pass Road below Sign of the Kiwi and is developing in Victoria Park.  It has also spread to within close proximity of the dense residential housing of Westmorland.

At least three additional houses have been destroyed in the area of Worsleys Road.

Evacuations are continuing, as the fire has compromised properties in the Worsleys, Hoon Hay Valley and Kennedys Bush Roads, and streets in the vicinity of Longhurst Terrace in Cashmere. The area south of Sign of the Takahe on Dyers Pass Road has also been evacuated.

Te Hapua Halswell Centre and the Nga Hau e Wha Marae are open for evacuated residents.