'No greater sacrifice' - Mayor reacts to 'tragic news' of firefighting helicopter pilot's fatal crash

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1 NEWS

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says the fatal crash of a helicopter being used in the fight against the Port Hills fires is tragic news and her heart goes out to the family of the pilot.

The pilot, who was the sole occupant, died at the scene just above the Sugar Loaf car park just after 2.30pm.

A pilot died after his helicopter crashed in the Port Hills today.
Source: 1 NEWS

Helicopters have since resumed fighting fires that are blazing more than 600 hectares on the hills, Ms Dalziel said tonight.

"There really is no greater sacrifice than to risk your life in the service of others," said Ms Dalziel.

A pilot fighting the Port Hills fires died when the helicopter he was flying crashed today.
Source: 1 NEWS

"I know I speak for the whole Council when I express sincere gratitude to everyone, who is doing their best to get these fires under control. Our thoughts are with you all."

'Notifying next of kin'

Principal Rural Fire Officer Douglas Marshall said the Marley's Hill fire was largely contained on the city side of the Summit Road. 

Parts of the Early Valley fire had crossed the Summit Road towards Governors Bay but the fire was largely contained, he said. 

Current activity across both fires is focused on efforts to protect structures and prevent the fire from spreading.

Police, meanwhile, are so far releasing few details about the crash.

Canterbury police superintendent Lane Todd says the pilot was the sole occupant of the helicopter that crashed at the scene of the fire.
Source: 1 NEWS

"We anticipate that we'll be carrying out a full scene examination in the morning and we're currently in the stage of notifying the next of kin and wider family," Canterbury police superintendent Lane Todd told media.

"At this stage we will not be releasing any details in terms of the pilot and the company involved.

"At this time our thoughts are with the families and also with the wider emergency services community who have been fighting this fire for over 24 hours now."

Asked where exactly the helicopter crashed, Mr Todd said he would not go into the the specific details. 

"Obviously it's within where we've got the wider fire scene at the moment, but I'm not going into any further details at this stage. Our staff are still on site and determining exactly what's occurred.

A helicopter crashed this afternoon in the Port Hills.
Source: 1 NEWS

One of the operators fighting the scrub fires by dropping buckets of water has been Christchurch Helicopters.

A spokesperson wouldn't comment on whether it was one of the firm's helicopters.

She said that former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, who is a pilot and co-director of the business, has been taking people out of the affected areas and assisting the Fire Service.

He hasn't been "bucketing", she said and has been working on the ground. 

The Civil Aviation Authority and police will be investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash.

Two fixed-wing aeroplanes have been laying retardant around important structures to strengthen protection from fire but no further structures have been lost beyond those reported earlier today.

Road Closures:

New: Kennedys Bush Road is closed form the roundabout with Rock Hill Drive. This includes the southbound cycle track
New: Worsleys Track from Worlseys Road is closed
Dyers Pass Road is closed between Hackthorne Road to Governors Bay Road. Use the Lyttelton Tunnel or Gebbies Pass as the alternate route
Summit Road is closed between Gebbies Pass and Rapaki Track
Update: Old Tai Tapu Road is closed between Osterholts Road and Early Valley Road
Early Valley Road is closed
Holmes Road & Holmeswood Rise - Residents are allowed access to their homes. Not open to through traffic

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