Live updates: British PM condemns 'sick' and 'depraved' terror attack, pays tribute to emergency workers
A group of Port Hills locals sprang into action on Monday after seeing ominous clouds of smoke coming over the hills, heading for a neighbour's house which was under threat from flames.
Andy Nicholson of Early Valley Rd was sitting quietly watching The Chase on TV when he noticed the smoke.
Being a member of the local community fire group, he knew he had to get his water trailer ready and go as soon as possible.
"We believe we are our own first response ... we often get to fires 15 minutes before anyone else gets to it," Mr Nicholson said.
"We have the support of the local fire brigades, they've helped us with training and they've supplied us with foam and that type of thing."
He thought the smoke looked to be coming from an area where a neighbour and good friend had his home, so he grabbed his son Robert, 19, and his other neighbour Derek before heading off in his ute towards the source to try to help.
With Robert in the back filming, the group soon realised the fire had spread very quickly, and at times they had to drive right through walls of fire.
"We drove for a few seconds there with flames enveloping the ute - it was far more advanced than I gave it credit for," Mr Nicholson said.
Upon arriving at the neighbour's property, they pumped about 500 litres of firefighting foam and water around the property before realising there was no way they could stay any longer.
"I think The Gambler happened to be playing on the radio by sheer accident ... 'know when to walk away, know when to run' - well we knew when to run!" he laughed.
A shed was lost on that property, but no houses, as helicopters with monsoon buckets saturated them during the worst of the fire.
Upon arriving home, Mr Nicholson realised the fire had now reached parts of his own property, and he went about fighting it as best he could until he was given the order to evacuate.
"We were doing quite well until we got told to go ... which annoyed the hell out of us, because we sort of know what we're doing," he said.
The fire ended up burning through between $20,000 and $40,000 worth of fencing on his property, but luckily not his home.
"We're right at the bottom of the valley and for some reason the fire didn't get right down into it."
Early Valley Rd has been cordoned since the fire, and remains so at the bottom end where firefighting efforts continue.