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Helicopters back fighting Port Hills fires

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/02/2017

Aerial efforts to put out fires in Christchurch's Port Hills have resumed after the fatal crash of a helicopter.

The commercial machine was one of 12 choppers helping to battle the blazes and went down near the Sugar Loaf car park at 2.30pm on Tuesday.

The sole person on the board died at the scene and the Civil Aviation Authority is investigating.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says the crash is tragic news.

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

"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."

More than 120 firefighters and Defence Force staff have been working to contain the two scrub fires, one of which broke out about 6pm on Monday and the other about an hour later.

One home has been destroyed and another slightly damaged, and some livestock has been killed.

Selwyn District principal rural fire officer Douglas Marshall says 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 that fire was also was largely contained.

Helicopters would continue to operate until nightfall and from first light on Wednesday.

While firefighters were making good progress in bringing the fires under control, they were expected to be working on them for another 48 to 72 hours.

A total fire ban has been in place across Christchurch and Banks Peninsula since Saturday after authorities deemed the risk too high.

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