'All it's done is make our firefighters' jobs harder' - wet cloud causing delays in containment of Port Hills fire

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the story so far

  • Fires which started on Monday continue to burn on the Port Hills.
  • The fires are mainly hot spots contained within 2075 hectares as rain falls in Christchurch.
  • 11 homes, two sheds destroyed.
  • 1 dead: Chopper pilot and ex-SAS soldier Steve Askin.
  • Around 1000 evacuated people able to return to homes in Westmorland.

Wet cloud is causing delays in the containment of the Port Hills fire, forcing aircrafts to remain grounded. 

Many are still wearing clothes from Wednesday and are desperate to feed their pets.
Source: 1 NEWS

Rural Fire incident controller Richard McNamara said the firefighters have had some bad days, but they were able to contain the fire today and it was getting better until the wet cloud arrived.

"This isn't rain, this is just wet cloud and all it's done is make our firefighters' jobs harder," he said.

"We can't fly because the aircraft can't get enough visual clearance to fly and so our firefighters are having to work in this crud."

He said wet cloud would be "fantastic" four days from now, because the crews would have had time to build a better containment line.

"We would have had this fire far more under control," said Mr McNamara.

Cordons lifted

The cordons at the corner of Early Valley Road and Old Tai Tapu Road and at the corner of Osterholts Road and Old Tai Tapu Road have been lifted.

The lifting of these cordons and the earlier lifting of the cordon at the corner of Cashmere Road and Penruddock Rise, means there are now no cordons on Old Tai Tapu Road.

Much of Westmorland has now reopened, allowing more than 1000 people to return to their homes.

The cordon at the corner of Cashmere Road and Penruddock Rise was lifted earlier this afternoon and residents were able to return to those properties, with access to this area only available from the east.

All other cordons remain in place as risk assessments take place.

Shalamar Dr, Cashmere Road between Hendersons Road and Kaiwara Street, and Penruddock Rise are now open.

Confusion still remains

Evacuated Christchurch residents said earlier they're frustrated with mixed messages from Civil Defence about when they'll be able to return home.

Residents around Penruddock Rise, were told there was a meeting at 1pm to discuss cordons, and they'll be told shortly after if they'll be allowed back into their homes.

One man, who didn't want to appear on camera, said he was allowed up to his house earlier this morning.

He asked if he could leave to pick up his wife and cat and then return, and was told yes. However on return they weren't allowed back up.

The Poutakawaenga (Maori) liason for the Fire Service, Paki Johnston told Te Karere he entered Worsleys Road with some family members for them tho see the state of houses and get essentials.

Mr Johnston said he did not know if they'd be able to access the top of the road, where four of the 11 houses destroyed by the Port Hills fire were.

However, Civil Defence spokesperson, Ross Pringle said Worsleys Road residents have not accessed their properties today.

He said while it's on the agenda for Civil Defence there has been no officially sanctioned allowance for this action.

Police are making efforts to contact Worsleys Rd homeowners to organise a visit to view their properties, Mr Pringle said.

"It could happen later today," he said.

Vikki Pflaum, who lost her long-time family home this week when the blaze reached upper Worsleys Rd, said police at the cordon told her she may be granted access tomorrow.

Mrs Pflaum said no one is allowed to enter the road.

Around 1000 Cantabrians are still unable to return home as Civil Defence advises that cordons are still in place around the Port Hills.

Dave Wayman left a message below a post about the cordons on the Christchurch Civil Defence Emergency Management Facebook page.

"It would be good to watch what we can and can't do to access areas within the cordons that aren't evacuated," he wrote.

Members of the public are advised to stay away from the yellow line.

Members of the public are advised to stay away from the yellow line.

Source: 1 NEWS

Writing on the same thread Lolohea Ofa Fakahua wrote "this is absurd".

On a different post on the page this morning David McKinnon vented his frustration.

"What's that feeling, when you're currently evacuated with a pet for the third day and just want to know if you can go home and the information available to you is fragmented".

Earlier today Civil Defence indicated the cordon would remain in place at least until the end of today.

The 'Tai Tapu Hillbillies' - contractors helping with the Port Hills fires have a well earned break.

The 'Tai Tapu Hillbillies' - contractors helping with the Port Hills fires have a well earned break.

Source: 1 NEWS

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