11 Feb 2019

Nelson fire: Evacuated residents worried about stock

8:50 am on 11 February 2019

Civil Defence will today give evacuated residents details about when they might get back into their homes, but in the mean time Wakefield residents can only go through the town in escorted convoys.

RNZ's Conan Young joined one of the convoys on Sunday and found the priority for many was getting to stock to make sure they had enough water and feed.

Fire authorities say there's a strong possibility that people can start returning home over the next few days.

Fire and Emergency incident controller John Sutton said wind forecast today are manageable, and fire crews should be able to get control of the fire.

"I think progressively there'll be more access if things don't get worse in terms of the weather."

Meanwhile, a state of emergency remains in place and residents are being told to respect the cordons and follow official instructions.

More of RNZ's coverage of the Nelson fires:

People who had to leave their properties in Wakefield are being taken through the town in convoys if they need to get to school or work on the other side.

Michael and Judy Gullery were in the convoy, returning from Nelson after stocking up with supplies.

Their daughter and her family had been evacuated from Pigeon Valley and were staying with them.

"They've been allowed up Pigeon Valley to check [their stock]. Some of the sheep have disappeared," Judy said.

The couple have cattle, dogs and cats of their own, and their daughter brought family bring pets out with her. "They've come up to us, they've got four cats and a dog, five puppies and we've also got our own dogs on our property, so if we had to go somewhere it would be quite difficult."

David Baigent, who farms cattle just outside the town, was anxious to check on some young calves on Sunday.

"I've been trying since lunchtime yesterday with MPI and they've finally said I can finally come and get my calves."

He'd been taken in with a police escort on Saturday night and had been able to give them water.

At Wai-iti, on the other side of Wakefield, Stu Mitchell is one of 400 told to be ready to evacuate at a moments notice.

He has a sheep farm about 5km where the fire first started and says there have been some nervous moments, especially on Wednesday, when the smoke was very thick.

He was anxious that the fire might swing around and head towards his valley.

"I whipped up ... and moved the ewes out. It was such thick smoke even the rabbits and hares were on the move out of the forestry.

All the stock were really happy to come down the valley to get away from the worst of it."

About 3000 people have been evacuated from Wakefield and Eves Valley, Teapot Valley, Redwood Valley and Pigeon Valley.

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