'We're so grateful' - Hard working fire crews heaped with high praise from Christchurch people

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They're still working tirelessly to put out the massive fire on the Port Hills, but the hundreds of pilots, firemen, police, soldiers and volunteers involved are getting high praise from the Christchurch community.

The fires which have been burning since Monday and have spread over 1800 hectares, have seen one helicopter pilot lose his life in a crash, at least 11 homes destroyed and about 450 homes evacuated.

The pilots say the messages of goodwill are helping to keep them fighting the flames.
Source: Seven Sharp

Four-hundred firefighters and more than a dozen aircraft are tackling the blaze, and the aerial bombardment has helped save hundreds of homes.

"Just with the other aircraft around, all the radio talk, fixed wing over the top. It's chaos really," one of the pilots, Macca, told Seven Sharp.

They'll tell you they're just doing a job, but on the the ground the majority do it for free.

"This effort relies heavily on the work of volunteers. It's time that they're not spending with their families. Not with their employers. I'm extremely proud and so should the community [be]," said fire officer Mac.

It's been a huge effort, but you've done a fantastic job. Keep safe"
Prime Minister Bill English's message to the fire workers

And the word from the other side of the cordon was nothing but appreciation for the pilots, firemen, police, army and volunteers, from people who delivered their messages straight into the Seven Sharp camera.

Prime Minister Bill English told all the fire workers: "It's been a huge effort, but you've done a fantastic job. Keep safe."

A woman, paused in her car, said: "Thank you so much for saving our home. Our home is everything. Thank you."

While another woman declared: "We're so grateful - pilots, firefighters, police, army."

A man said for the fire workers "to give up everything and quite possibly a life is appreciated by everyone."

Below the firefighting pilots, the public has given them a boost.

"There's signs on the ground saying 'you guys are awesome' and 'keep going'. So that's cool to see and it keeps you going," pilot Macca said.

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