Port Hills fire: crews put out 50% of hotspots

8:20 pm on 18 February 2024
Firefighters continue their efforts on Saturday as they work to dampen down remaining hot spots and create a buffer zone around the 24km perimeter fire ground in Christchurch's Port Hills. Pictured Rural firefighter Aaron Kinnane (City Care firefighter)

Firefighters seen on Saturday working to dampen down hotspots and create a buffer zone around the fire ground in Christchurch's Port Hills. Photo: CHRIS SKELTON

Firefighters tackling the Port Hills fire have snuffed out more than half of the dozens of hotspots identified over the past 24 hours.

The blaze, which has been going on for five days, continues to burn as firefighters put in around-the-clock efforts to contain its spread.

Nearly 60 hotspots were detected following thermal imaging operations from the air, both overnight and this morning.

Again Sunday night, a specialist drone crew will resume thermal imaging flights to locate hotspots.

Fire and Emergency incident controller Steve Kennedy said today's crew put in a big effort to cool 28 of the 58 hotspots.

Work will continue through the night to reduce the risk of the fire flaring up ahead of the high winds expected tomorrow.

"Crews are doing hard, physical work in hot conditions, and on very steep terrain in some places."

Residents who were evacuated are being warned to be aware of the high winds and weather conditions and be ready to reevacuate if needed.

All roads leading to the fire grounds are restricted to residents only.

Everyone across the region is urged to stay alert for an "increased wildfire danger" tomorrow and is asked to keep from doing anything that could spark a fire, including activities like welding or grinding outdoors, mowing or harvesting.

There is a total fire ban in Canterbury, north of the Rakaia River.

Rain forecast

The strong winds set to blow into Christchurch Monday are expected to be short-lived.

Metservice meteorologist Gerard Bellam said a northwest change is expected Sunday evening with gusts picking up Monday to potentially 65km/hr in the city.

A high of 27 degrees would add to the dry conditions during the day.

But the period of strong wind would be cut short by a southerly change on Monday night - bringing with it showers and cooler temperatures, Bellum said.

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