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Tasman residents remain on edge as conditions continue to pose fire risk

Tasman residents remain on edge as conditions continue to pose an extreme fire risk.

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1 NEWS’ Kaitlin Ruddock spoke to those affected. Source: 1 NEWS

Cordons remain in place on the Moutere Highway, where a fire broke out on a hillside yesterday afternoon.

Moutere resident Cindy Pearless told 1 NEWS she discovered there was a fire at her backdoor while at work.

“I got phone call from my husband saying I needed to get home smartly. So I just ran out and left and got here probably within half an hour and I had ten minutes to get stuff together."

No more than 300 metres away, the Moutere hill was ablaze.

Fire and Emergency Tasman Marlborough Area Commander Grant Haywood says the fire took the work of four helicopters and ground crews “to actually keep it where it was. It moves very, very fast”.

The 13 hectare fire is believed to have started off the side of a road, burning deep into second generation pine forest.

Police are now looking for a person seen running with a dog on Eban Street in the Redwood Valley area around 2pm yesterday.

Fire investigators were at the scene of the Moutere fire today to determine its cause.

“We don't know how it started at the moment but we're in a space where it is exceptionally dry,” says Mr Haywood.

“One single match, a spark from a lawnmower will cause this very dry grass to ignite. That's why we need residents to be vigilant”.

Cordons remain in place after fire breaks out on Moutere Highway Source: 1 NEWS

Evacuation ready

Residents living in the wider Nelson Tasman region, not just those closest to the fires, are advised to be ready for an evacuation knock.

“The crucial thing is that when you have a very short amount of time to evacuate you often don't have that clarity to think what you might need,” says Civil Defence Nelson Tasman Group Welfare Manager Rylee Petterson.

She recommends households prepare a go-bag for each family member that has essential items “such as photocopies of your passports, key papers that you might have, a memory stick with your photos on it.
“Spare pairs of glasses, some prescriptions or at least a list of prescriptions that you have, key phone numbers and of course pets”.

Cordons remain in place on the Moutere Highway where a fire broke out. Source: 1 NEWS

Community wellbeing

The looming threat has taking its toll on locals and health officials know there’s no “overnight fix”.

Nelson Marlborough Health’s Mental Health, Addictions and Disability Support Services General Manager Jane Kinsey says people will be going back to their homes “still aware of the fire risk, still feeling anxious that they might be evacuated again and even when the fire gets put out that feeling will still stay with people for a long time”.

Her advice is to “keep talking” with friends, family and neighbours.

GP and pharmacy services have been made free to people directed affected by the fire and Ms Kinsey says they’re also “really keen” for people to use helplines, including calling or texting 1737 for free counselling.

“Our message is ‘don’t be too hard on yourself’ and accepting the fact that this is a big thing and talking about it is the most important thing you can do”.