25 Feb 2017

Two appointments to lead Port Hills fires recovery effort

4:46 pm on 25 February 2017

The Selwyn district and Christchurch city councils have appointed people to lead the recovery from the Port Hills fires.

A firefighter dampens down a hot spot in the wake of the devastating Port Hills fires.

A firefighter dampens down a hot spot in the wake of the devastating Port Hills fires. Photo: RNZ / Logan Church

The fires are 95 percent contained, but firefighting operations are expected to continue for several weeks and a state of emergency remains in place.

Al Lawn will take charge of the recovery in Selwyn, and Murray Sinclair in Christchurch.

Mr Sinclair, who was a Civil Defence controller for the Kaikōura earthquake, said the pair would work together on an action plan.

"Some of the longer term recovery issues could be a number of years, but the recovery phase and the role as recovery managers, we may only be going for a few weeks to identify all the issues and then try and assign the responsibility for the longer term issues to various agents, whether it be councils or some other agency."

Mr Sinclair said the state of emergency was likely to be lifted on Monday or Tuesday, and a formal recovery period would begin.

The Rural Fire Service said 20 crews would keep strengthening containment lines today, and dangerous trees would also be removed.

It said there were no significant flare-ups overnight.

No rubberneckers please

Residents in cordoned-off areas of the Port Hills in Christchurch want rubberneckers to stay away.

Cordons have been relaxed for residents only at Worsleys Road, Kennedys Bush Road, Hoon Hay Valley Road and Dyers Pass Road.

The Civil Defence Controller, Malcolm Johnston, said people needed to resist the temptation to go up for a look.

Mr Johnston said the residents did not want people there, and that because the fires were still burning it was simply not safe for the general public to enter.

He said people could check the council's website to find out which walking and cycling tracks were open.

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