You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Eleven homes gone in Port Hills fire

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/02/2017

Eleven homes have been destroyed as firefighters continue to battle a fire that has been burning in Christchurch's Port Hills for more than three days.

More than 130 firefighters, 45 tankers and 15 helicopters having been tackling the blaze, which has spread over more than 2000 hectares and also claimed two sheds.

Worried residents have been told that a large number of houses are expected to have been damaged by smoke, heat and fire.

Christchurch Civil Defence controller Dave Adamson says the total number of properties affected won't be known until the emergency has ended.

"We are aware that this is an extremely anxious time for residents who have had to leave their homes," he said.

"We're working with other agencies to arrange for this information to be passed on to home owners in the affected areas as soon as the information becomes available."

Significant rain is not expected until Saturday, but there are hopes that a predicted change in wind direction on Friday will slow the progress of the fire.

Emergency services are preparing to continue operations over the weekend at least, with the emphasis being to direct the flames away from people and property.

Extinguishing the fire, which began in two separate locations on Monday night before merging on Wednesday night, could take much longer.

"This fire has got to be got under control," Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel said.

"It's going to take weeks because it's going to smoulder. There are going to be outbreaks from time to time.

"The wind could change while we are speaking and that would make a difference."

A state of emergency has been in force in Christchurch and Selwyn District since Wednesday.

Residents of 400 homes have been evacuated by police, who have 50 staff working around the clock in response to the fires.

Hundreds of other residents have chosen to self-evacuate.

Police have warned that situation is extremely volatile and people may have to leave at short notice if the fire changes direction.

Meanwhile, another 25 Defence Force personnel have joined 36 colleagues working with emergency services, and an Air Force C-130 Hercules has headed to Australia to collect fire retardant.

Prime Minister Bill English said crews from the US Coastguard ship Polar Star had been assisting, and offers of help from Australian firefighters were also being considered.

Speaking during a visit to Christchurch, Mr English said he had been told the situation was "contained but not controlled".

He added that the cause of the fire appeared to be suspicious.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon