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More Pigeon Valley residents warned to be ready to evacuate as fire continues in Tasman

This is 1 NEWS NOW's earlier live updates of the Tasman fire today, February 8. For ongoing live coverage of this emergency this evening, please click here.

6.45pm - The monsoon buckets being carried by the helicopters to the fire in Atawhai are making progress, Kaitlin Ruddock has reported.

One street in Atawhai has been evacuated but many residents on other streets have self-evacuated

6.08pm - The Atawhai fire has flared up again with 1 NEWS reporter Kaitlin Ruddock reporting she's seen flames on the hillside.  

Source: Civil Defence

5.50pm - This from Inspector Zane Hooper at the media stand-up. "I’d ask all residents to please go to the Civil Defence website, look at that map, and get a good understanding of where you’re being asked to prepare to evacuate." We'll have that map up in these updates shortly. Also the below is the latest update from Civil Defence.

  • Wakefield residents in the area bordered by Barton Lane, Higgins Road & Baigent Valley Road are being asked to evacuate
  • Evacuation of residents in Wakefield, north of State Highway 6 between Pigeon Valley Road & Simmonds Road is underway.
  • If you are elsewhere in southern Wakefield area, be prepared to evacuate or self-evacuate.
  • People are asked to please take water, food, medicines, pets and valuables.
  • The Civil Defence Centre in Wakefield has been moved to Saxton Field Stadium. Evacuated residents are asked to register,     either by going to the centre or for those who can’t make it to the centre, or don’t need additional assistance please call 03     543 8400 to register by phone.
  • There is an animal response team in the Pigeon Valley area to assist with animal evacuations. If you need somewhere to take     your animals, go to the Richmond Show Ground.
  • There will be road closures as the evacuations take place, more information about these closures will be available on the Civil     Defence website later.

5.45pm - Reports of a drone at the Walter's Bluff incident. Air Operations have ceased. The Tasman-Marlborough Fire Area have requested that if you know whom this is please ask them to stop.

5.35pm - Grant Haywood has said properties have been evacuated from Atawhai, where the blaze was threatening six homes. Only a deck was lost on one of those homes.

5.30pm - Incident Controller John Sutton has said crews have managed to keep the Tasman fire within the current containment lines.

He told media the weather wasn't as bad as had been forecast.

5.10pm - An investigator has been appointed to find out how the Atawhai fire started, a Fire and Emergency spokesperson has told 1 NEWS.

It took 10 fire engines on the ground, three helicopters, and an aeroplane dropping fire retardant to bring the flames under control.

Contrary to rumours on social media, there’s no confirmation of any houses lost in the blaze, the spokesperson said.

The focus now is to protect houses and keep the fire under control, then crews will start to mop up and dampen hot spots to ensure it’s well and truly out, according to the spokesperson.

5.05pm - There has been further update on the evacuations in the Wakefield and Pigeon Valley areas ahead of a media stand-up at 5.30pm, which we'll bring to you on Facebook.

  • For Wakefield Residents in the area bordered by Barton Lane, Higgins Road, and Baigent Road are advised to evacuate.  
  • Wakefield residents north of SH6 between Pigeon Valley Road and Simmonds Road have been asked to evacuate.
  • As a precautionary measure, remaining residents in Wakefield should be ready to evacuate.
  • People are asked to please take water, food, medicines, pets and valuables and asked to register at Saxton Field Stadium, Stoke or ring 03 543 8400.
  • For the Pigeon Valley fire, observers in helicopters are in position over Wakefield. Drones will be doing further assessment and monitoring of fire.

4.40pm - The fire at Atawhai has been brought under control by some fantastic work by ground crews and helicopter pilots, Tasman-Marlborough Fire Area has said on Facebook.

3.12pm - Police have released a media statement in conjunction to what Inspector Hooper said earlier at the stand-up.

Inspector Zane Hooper advised residents to take precautions, warning some may have to leave their homes. Source: 1 NEWS

  • Police and other support agencies are conducting door knocks at all addresses in the evacuated areas.
  • An emergency alert has also been sent out to affected residents.
  • Wakefield residents north of State Highway 6 between Pigeon Valley Road & Simmonds Road have been asked to evacuate 
  • However if you are remaining Wakefield area or area south of Wakefield to Trass Valley Road, we ask you to prepare to be evacuated or self-evacuate.
  • The Civil Defence Centre in Wakefield has been moved to Saxton Field Stadium.
  • Evacuated residents are asked to register, either by going to the centre or for those who can’t make it to the centre, or don’t need additional assistance please call 03 543 8400 to register by phone.
  • All residents are asked to continue to follow advice issued by Civil Defence and take all precautions.
  • If you do not have urgent business in this areas, we do not want you going to Wakefield for safety purposes.
  • We continue to ask people to check Civil Defence website for regular updates and advice.
Source: Civil Defence

3.03pm - Civil Defence has confirmed there is a fire on Walters Bluff though the exact location is to be confirmed.

Incident Controller John Sutton told media it hadn’t been a good morning for fighting the Tasman fire. Source: 1 NEWS

They advise people to stay out of area, close windows if you smell smoke. They will provide firther updates when they know more.

2.50pm - A separate fire has broken at Walters Bluff near the Nelson CBD. A large plume of smoke can be seen coming from the area.

2.38pm - Inspector Hooper also told media:

  • 12 teams deployed and going door to door, but emergency alert has gone out already.
  • 1200 residents currently being evacuated and some have already done so.
  • Do not go to Wakefield if you have no business there. 
  • There will be an ongoing police presence throughout the night 
Peter Verstappen says parents should be honest with children during emergencies, but reassure them people are here to help. Source: 1 NEWS

2.26pm - "It is quite possible that there will be a further evacuation in the coming hours," Inspector Zane Hooper told media at the 2pm stand-up.

John Sutton of Fire and Emergency New Zealand says some firefighters are now on their fifth day fighting the fire. Source: 1 NEWS

2.20pm - "Please understand, that ahead of a fire is not a place to be, we don’t put people in front of there and you can imagine, the smoke is black, very heavy, smoking embers and what have you." Mr Sutton said.

"It’s definitely not a place we put people and once it happens, it’s too late, we haven’t got that opportunity to go and help people so we had to make that decision (to evacuate).”

Mr Sutton said crews were doing everything they can but "in the end it will be whether the wind is kind to us or not".

2.15pm - "It's not good start to the day," Mr Sutton said. He added that there was plenty of fuel for the fire but it hasn't started to move at any pace though that will happen if the winds continues to develop.

2.08pm - Winds at 20km/h, gusting to 30km/h, and the humidity of 30 to 40 per cent, it's not good, Incident Controller John Sutton has told media in Nelson. These factors led to the decision to evacuate.

1.20pm - A Nelson Airport spokesman told 1 NEWS that everything is now operating as usual after check-in was suspended as a precaution earlier today.

1.15pm - More from Nelson Tasman Civil Defence on the evacuation of Wakefield:

Wakefield residents north of State Highway 6 between Pigeon Valley Road and Simmonds Road have been asked to evacuate due to the risk associated with wind change. This is a precaution.

If you are elsewhere in Wakefield be prepared to evacuate or self-evacuate.

The Civil Defence Centre in Wakefield has been moved to Saxton Field Stadium. Evacuated residents are asked to register, either by going to the centre or for those who can’t make it to the centre, or don’t need additional assistance please call 03 543 8400 to register by phone.

There is an animal response team in the Pigeon Valley area to assist with animal evacuations. If you need somewhere to take your animals, go to the Richmond Show Ground.

1.10pm - Wakefield residents have been told to prepare to evacuate at short notice by Tasman-Marlborough Fire 

Keep your phones charged and on and enable emergency alert notifications, the fire department wrote on its Facebook page.

1.08pm - Extra government funding worth $50,000 has been unlocked with a medium-scale adverse event declared for the Tasman district.

"The wildfire and the drought conditions have combined to make it a particularly tough time for those trying to manage stock and grow food," Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said.

"This unlocks extra funding of $50,000 for the Rural Support Trusts and primary industry groups to help speed up the recovery of farming and horticultural businesses."

12.45pm - "We made the most of the favourable conditions yesterday to contain the spread of the fire and build fire breaks, however with a change in weather conditions predicted this afternoon residents in Wakefield have been given notice of potential evacuation,” Civil Defence Emergency Management Group Controller Dennis Bush-King said.

Temporary residents’ access has been granted for a two-hour period to residents along Golden Hills Rd, to go back to their properties.

They have the opportunity to collect essential belongings and to ensure their domestic animals are looked after and to check on stock.

“The fire was pretty active overnight, particularly in areas in the southeast and northwest, and it’s now covering about 2000 hectares,” says Incident Controller John Sutton.

“We expect today to be similar to yesterday and it is likely that the fire will continue to burn over the weekend, we will continue to monitor the weather and assess the situation.”

12.40pm - Civil Defence has given the following information in its latest update:

Residents in Wakefield area are 'on notice' for evacuation

There has been minimal change to the approximate fire area overnight, it covers 2000 ha, with an approximately 23 km perimeter.

The revised number of evacuated properties is now 180, affecting approximately 398 residents

11.55am - More from the police on the evacuation of Pigeon Valley: 

Pigeon Valley residents are being asked to leave due to the weather conditions and heavy smoke.

Police are working with all agencies to conduct this evacuation and ensure residents are safe and informed.

Extra New Zealand Defence Force personnel are assisting NZ Police with evacuations.

All residents are asked to continue to follow advice issued by Civil Defence and take all precautions.

11.50am - Remaining residents in the Pigeon Valley need to evacuate now, the Tasman District Council has said.

This is because of the wind change & the need to focus resources in other areas. This is a precautionary measure. Please take water, food, medicines, pets & valuables. Message continued in next post.

Evacuees are asked to register at the Evacuation Centre at Wakefield, St John Church or ring 03 543 8400. 11:45am - Animal rescue teams are also on their way to Nelson. Read more here.

11.35am - The SPCA are calling for help as they get their centre ready for a possible influx of evacuated animals and they are short on supplies.  

They need hay, collapsible cages, chicken food and foster parents with space to temporarily house cats, dogs and small animals.  If you can help call the SPCA on 0224739733.

11.30am - Nelson City Council is temporarily closing public access to reserves and tracks.  "With the extremely dry conditions, prevailing winds, slope and nature of the vegetation, a fire would spread uphill extremely quickly, making evacuation very difficult," it says in a statement.

The following tracks are closed:

CONSERVATION RESERVES

• Maitai Water Reserve
• Roding Water Reserve
• Marsden Valley Reserve
• Venner Reserve
• Brook Conservation Reserve, including Eureka Park
• Titoki Reserve

LANDSCAPE RESERVES

• Grampians Reserve
• Tantragee Reserve, including all of Codgers Mountain Bike Area
• Botanical Hill, including all tracks to the Centre of New Zealand
• Atmore Reserve
• Hanby Park
• Highview Reserve
• Pipers Reserve
• Sir Stanley Whitehead Park
• Tasman Heights Reserve
• Bolwell Reserve
• Stoke Reservoir Reserve (behind the Nelson Christian College)

OTHER CLOSURES

• The Dun Mountain Trail
• Maitai Walkway from Sunday Hole (Gibbs Bridge) through to the Maitai Water Reserve

The Medical officer of Health says people with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema or other lung disease are at greatest risk from smoke inhalation.

"People with these conditions should avoid exposure to the smoke and remain indoors, close all windows and doors, turn off ventilation, air conditioning and heating systems that draw air from outside."

11.10am - The New Zealand Defence Force has sent another 30 personnel today to help control the bushfire.

11.00am - A Nelson Airport spokesman told 1 NEWS one flight has been delayed and another diverted to Wellington as poor visibility increases.  He recommends all passengers contact their airline for the latest updates.

10.50am - A smoky yellow haze has set in over Wakefield and ash is falling.

10:40am - According to Civil Defence the revised number of evacuated properties is now 180, affecting approximately 398 residents.

Temporary residents’ access has been granted for a two-hour period to residents along Golden Hills Rd, to go back to their properties.

They have the opportunity to collect essential belongings and to ensure their domestic animals are looked after and to check on stock.

Incident Controller John Sutton says, “We expect today to be similar to yesterday and it is likely that the fire will continue to burn over the weekend.”
 

10.25am - Due to the fire in Pigeon Valley, a 70km/h speed restriction has been put in place as there is reduced visibility.

10.20am - Volunteers at the Nelson Suburbs Football Club Rooms at Saxton Field are asking for food to give to the firefighters.

The team feeding them particularly wants muesli bars, barley sugars, water, sports drinks, baking, fruit, juice, sanitary products and chutneys.

They’re also after paper plates, disposable cutlery, small bags for making up snack packs and petrol vouchers.

You can also drop supplies off at Richmond School.

Volunteer receiving supplies. Source: 1 NEWS

9.40am - Fire and Emergency New Zealand says the fire near Nelson could flare up again this afternoon as wind conditions change, and is likely to burn into next week.

Speaking to media this morning, Incident Controller John Sutton said conditions had become challenging yesterday due to a change in wind and humidity, leading the fire to increase in size to about 2000 hectares.

Families evacuated today gathered on a nearby hill to see if the flames would claim their homes this evening.
Source: 1 NEWS

Earlier: Early childhood centres, kindergartens and schools will be closed in Wakefield as a precautionary measure.

Emergency services are continuing to manage cordons and are preparing for any further potential evacuations.

Police ask residents to check the Civil Defence website and Facebook for updates and if there is the need to communicate urgently with residents a Civil Defence Alert will be sent.

Police and Civil Defence issued a precautionary warning last night, telling residents in the area north of State Highway 6, Wakefield between Pigeon Valley and Arnold Lane that they should start gathering essential items such as food, clothing and medication should they need to evacuate.

Rising winds are forecast for the Nelson region which is a concern for Civil Defence but more resources are being deployed to manage the fire.

Dennis Bush-King, Tasman Civil Defence Controller. told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning that there is still a lot to be concerned about.

“The weather forecast is not good. The winds are going to pick up later in the day and that may change the direction of the fire,” he says.

Around 1200 residents from Wakefield, about 30 minutes from Nelson, have left their homes. Source: 1 NEWS