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Firefighters cautiously optimistic after six days tackling major Tasman fire

1 NEWS NOW'S live coverage of the Tasman fire emergency concludes for Sunday, February 10, when the massive fire continued to burn for a sixth day, with 2500 residents still not able to return to their homes.

The threat from forecast strong winds has yet to eventuate, but authorities remain on edge. Source: 1 NEWS

What you need to know:

  • A large fire that started near Nelson on Tuesday afternoon has destroyed at least one home and resulted in thousands of evacuations.
  • The fire was declared a state of emergency on Wednesday and the status has remained.
  • A makeshift animal shelter has been set up for pets at the Richmond A&P grounds.
  • Evacuees are asked to register at the Civil Defence Centre at Saxton Stadium in Stoke, or phone 03 543 8400.
  • If you are in the fire area, you can email or send us photos to news@tvnz.co.nz.

Check out our updates earlier today.

8.08pm - Police have released a statement correcting the number provided for public to provide information about the Rabbit Island and Atawhai fires. Anyone with information for Police can call 0800 08 02 19.

In particular, as part of the investigation police want to identify and speak with three males seen on a bench on the Centre of New Zealand track in close proximity to Iwa Road, around 1.30pm on Friday. They are described as Caucasian and between 16 and 20 years old.

Two were possibly wearing baseball caps and one had fair hair. Please call the 0800 number if you can help Police with any information, or alternatively you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

7.00pm - While 1 NEWS reporter Lisa Davies spoke to some of the 2500 who have been evacuated from their homes including one 95-year-old man and his wife. You can watch that story below.

The plight of the 2,500 who've had to leave their homes is on the minds of many. Source: 1 NEWS

6.54pm - 1 NEWS reporter Nicole Bremner explains the layout of the frontline of the Tasman fire in her 6pm story which you can watch above.

5.41pm - Civil Defence have posted the following statement a short time ago.

The focus this afternoon has been the operation to progress Residents Access visits to properties in the four Valleys – Eves, Teapot, Sunrise and Pigeon.

We undertook four consecutive restricted residential access programmes.  A huge thank you to the communities for their support and cooperation.

General feedback was positive with residents relieved that there were no significant issues with their properties.

There were some challenges with the Pigeon Valley programme given the dynamic nature of the fire at the location. The additional complication of the State Highway cordons through Wakefield caused a delay for some residents and we will be working to resolve this issue for future access.

Incident controller John Sutton was more positive today with forecast windy weather for today not eventuating as yet. Source: 1 NEWS

Unfortunately, there is currently no temporary access possible for residents to return to properties in Wakefield. This is because of the ongoing risk presented by the fire and wind conditions in Wakefield.

We are currently working through some options to offer restricted access however this will depend on the availability of resources and the behaviour of the fire.

Thanks again to everyone who is offering support through financial donations. Please direct all donations through the Mayoral Relief Fund which can be accessed through the Tasman District Council website, as this is the secure, official channel. You'll find more information at  www.nelsontasmancivildefence.co.nz

4.44pm: Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne ends the press conference by telling media: "This is far from over.”

4.42pm: Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese says the emergency services response has been “exceptional.”

Rachel Reese, the Mayor of Nelson, says the emergency services and volunteers are a credit to the region. Source: 1 NEWS

“When something happens in the district, the people in the city stand up as well," she says.

4.40pm: Police confirm investigations are ongoing into two fires on Rabbit Island and Iwa Road. 

4.37pm: Fire and Emergency NZ incident controller John Sutton says they are “having a productive day and there has been no extreme fire behaviour, unlike was expected this afternoon.”

Lower wind speeds are predicted for tomorrow, he says. 

“Our outlook is improving somewhat.”

“At the end of tomorrow, we might be able to look strategically at other parts of the fire.”

Wind speeds of 20 km/h have been recorded so far this afternoon, gusts a little bit higher, Mr Sutton says.

A different tactic was implemented today with a small controlled burn in the north-western area, he says.

Civil Defence controller Roger Ball says the risk remains high and residents should expect to be out of their homes for a number of days. Source: 1 NEWS

4:24pm: Roger Ball, Nelson-Tasman group controller for Civil Defence says: "A focus this afternoon has been the operation to progress resident access to the properties in the four valleys - Eves Valley, Teapot, Sunrise and Pigeon Valley. This afternoon we undertook four consecutive, restricted residential access programmes. We express our huge thanks to the communities for their support and cooperation.

"General feedback was positive with residents relieved there were no significant issues with their properties." 

There are no temporary access options for Wakefield at this stage, he says.

4.11pm: Roger Ball, Nelson-Tasman group controller for Civil Defence says the operation is ongoing and there are no major developments to report at this time, although winds are picking up.

"FENZ will give and update on the fire situation. I understand you will be advised that the day has gone pretty well. However I emphasise that the overall assessment is that the risk remains high and that residents of all evacuated areas should expect to be out of their homes for some days to come," Mr Ball tells media.


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