12 Feb 2019

Nelson fire, day 8: Firefighters to work for weeks

4:30 pm on 12 February 2019

Wakefield evacuees have spent their first night back home after their town was declared safe from the nearby forest fire, for now.

There is still no word on when hundreds evacuated from valleys south of the town will be able to return home.

Emergency services are expected to maintain a presence in the fire-affected region into March.

People who attended community meetings in Appleby and Hope last night were told trees have become unstable and could topple, as the land is so dry, the fire has gone deep into the ground and into roots.

The area needs 75 millimetres of rain for grass to green up, but there is no rain on the 15-day radar.

Fire Emergency New Zealand's fire controller Trevor Mitchell told Morning Report the forecast for today was a little bit of wind from somewhere between southwest and northwest, but "nothing that's in excess of what we were dealing with on Sunday".

"The fire is not spreading but we wouldn't call it contained. Still got an awful lot of hot spots within the burnt area. A lot of the burnt area is quite patchy and because of the size - 25km around, 2300ha - it's going to be a lot of work."

He said Wakefield residents needed to be alert and possible evacuation instructions will remain in place for several days if not weeks.

"It depends on if we get a decent dollop of rain. There's nothing on the horizon for us which is bad news."

As for the situation in the valleys, he said fire-affected trees were dangerous and there had to more assessments made before firefighters were sent in or people were allowed back home.

Essential information:

  • Stay up-to-date with the latest information from Tasman Civil Defence on their social page.
  • People forcibly or voluntarily evacuating the area are asked to please take water, food, medicines, pets and valuables and asked to register at the civil defence centre, which has relocated to Richmond New Life Church or ring 03 543 8400.
  • View an interactive map of the area with estimated fire size, closures, evacuation zones. Disclaimer: for official public information see Tasman Civil Defence.
  • Feel in danger? People who feel in danger should call 111. If you or your family and friends in the affected areas need assistance, contact Nelson Tasman Civil Defence. Anyone with a medical, welfare or other need are asked to reach out for support.
  • Health and welfare, stress or anxiety: Care for those around you, including neighbours and especially the ill and elderly and those who live alone. For medical help contact your GP first or emergency department for emergencies. Talking can be therapeutic. Further advice from Nelson Marlborough DHB.
  • If you want to donate to the Mayoral Relief fund, please use the following details: Tasman District Council, ASB Bank Ltd, Nelson Commercial Banking; account number: 12-3193-0002048-03

Check this map for basic information, but do not rely on it for accuracy if you are in the area

More of RNZ's coverage of the Nelson fires:

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