Photo: Martin Hunter
9:35am: The MetService is forecasting occasional light rain for the city on Saturday with northeast breezes picking up in the afternoon. Winds are expected to get to about 20km/h. A fire communications spokesman said while more rain is a “good thing”, the light drizzle is making it slippery on the hills so firefighters would have to keep that in mind.
9:25am: A meeting for affected residents –those in the cordoned areas – will take place at 10am on Saturday at the South West Baptist Church gymnasium. It is on the corner Lyttelton St and Cobham St, Sydenham. Mayor Lianne Dalziel, a Christchurch Civil Defence Controller, Medical Officer of Health Alistair Humphrey and representatives from police, The New Zealand Fire Service or Rural Fire Service will brief residents on the situation.
7:54pm: Authorities have lifted several further cordons after assessing the risk from the Port Hills fire.
Cordons along Cashmere Rd have been removed where it intersects with:
- Shalamar Drive
- Worsleys Rd
- Opihi St
- Hendersons Rd
- Sutherlands Rd
A cordon is in place at the intersection of Hoon Hay Valley Rd and Cashmere Rd meaning Hoon Hay Valley Rd remains closed to the public.
The cordon at the intersection of Kennedys Bush Rd and Cashmere Rd is moved to the other side of the intersection, keeping the uphill section of Kennedys Bush Rd closed.
There are still cordons in place in the following areas:
- Beyond 327 Worsleys Rd
- Dyers Pass Rd at Hackthorne lower and upper intersections
- Dyers Pass Rd at Governor’s Bay Rd
- Summit Rd and Gebbies Pass Rd
6:18pm: Authorities have released how people can register to get access to properties within the cordon for essential supplies.
Visits will be prioritised according to urgency, based on the need to collect essential items such as:
- Livelihood – essential items for your business or study
- Health – if you need to get medication or other essential items
- Personal welfare – essential items such as clothing and documents
- Animal welfare – pets and livestock
People can call the city council on 941 8999 or 0800 800 169 to register or head online to fill out a request, go to ccc.govt.nz/evacuated-homeowners-access-registration/
People who register will be contacted and those who are able to go to their property will be accompanied by a police officer.
It is recommended adults only attend.
From 3pm today (Friday) the Civil Defence welfare centre at Te Hapua Halswell Centre shifted its focus from on-site accommodation to providing recovery assistance and information.
There will be staff available to deal with inquiries. People with accommodation needs can go to the centre to be assessed to see if they meet the criteria for assistance.
The centre will remain open until 7pm and will open again from 10-4pm on Saturday and Sunday. A decision about whether it remains in place beyond that will be made based on the demand.
4:24pm: The Canterbury District Health Board is reassuring people the smell of smoke in their properties presents no serious threat to health. Medical Officer of Health Alistair Humphrey said while many people returning to their houses will notice a strong smoky smell lingering, it does not present any long term harm to people’s health.
3:42pm: The cordon at the corner of Osterholts and Old Tai Tapu Rd has now been lifted. There are now no cordons on Old Tai Tapu Rd, and most of Westmorland has now been reopened.
3:13pm: The cordon at the corner of Early Valley and Old Tai Tapu Rd has been lifted. Access is available only from the north. A cordon remains in place to the south of this intersection because of continuing firefighting operations. More cordons will be lifted as the afternoon continues.
1:32pm: Shalamar Dr is now open.
1:21pm: The cordon on Cashmere Rd and Penruddock Rise has now been lifted. Only residents can get through. Access to the area is only available from the east. All other cordons remain in place but more could be lifted this afternoon.
11:52am: The Christchurch Transport Operations Centre said there is no change to the existing road closures. These are expected to remain in place on Friday. The next update, unless something major happens will be at 6pm, CTOC said.
11:29am: What cordons will be lifted may be known early this afternoon. Civil Defence is developing a process to allow evacuated residents back into their homes saying it is a “key priority”.
A risk assessment is being done from the ground and in the air.
There is still extreme heat in the ground and in vegetation which still poses a risk of flare ups and with winds expected to rise this afternoon, the moisture from Friday’s rain will be dried out, Civil Defence said.
The fire is largely contained but not yet controlled – the fire area is not expanding at this stage.
Today diggers are working in several areas to create fire breaks – where machinery can’t get, aircraft will be used to drop retardant to bolster fire breaks.
The operation is starting to move from air-based to ground-based firefighting – water drops won’t put the fire out completely so heavy machinery will put in fire breaks in and dig out the hot spots, Civil Defence said.
Currently there are 15 helicopters and three fixed wing aircraft being used.
Cashmere Primary School and Kidsfirst Cashmere Kindergarten is closed.
For passengers using the Blue Line – all trips will end at The Princess Margaret Hospital, no trips will travel to Cashmere Hill and the Westmorland to Eastgate route all trips will end and start their trips on Rose St until further notice.
10.54am: The extent of the damage at the top of the Christchurch Adventure Park is still unknown. The base station and village have remained untouched by fire, but the state of the chairlift and tracks has not been determined, park spokeswoman Anne Newman said. She said once the Fire Service allow them back into the park they will assess the damage.
10:51am: Police have confirmed they have not caught any looters inside the cordon.
10.15am: Shalamar Dr at Cashmere Rd has now been closed.
9:00am: Helicopters and aircraft resume flights.
Friday 6:25am: Quiet night for firefighters with a few minor flare ups.
Cooler weather conditions and higher humidity with light rain was a “welcome relief”, said authorities.
Cordons are expected to stay in place until Saturday.
Police cordons are still in place and these areas are still considered dangerous.
Te Hapua Welfare Centre remains open and it had a few people staying there overnight.
10:09pm: “While there are still areas burning out of control, the fire is contained within the 2075 hectare area.”
Christchurch Civil Defence controller Dave Adamson: “What’s encouraging is that the weather forecast looks promising for the next two days with high cloud, cooler temperatures and a chance of rain on Saturday. However, the situation remains volatile, as we’ve seen with some reported flare-ups, including one on Kennedy’s Bush Road, so the cordons remain in place to ensure personal safety and security of property.”
Another 31 police are due to arrive in Christchurch on Friday.
Fifteen crew from United States Coast Guard heavy icebreaker USCGC Polar Star are assisting
The fire covers an area of 2075 hectares
400 homes and 1000 people evacuated, though authorities have say there is no way knowing the full number of people evacuated.
11 people are staying at the welfare centre at Te Hapua Halswell Centre
Firefighters will use thermal-imaging technology and high-pressure hoses to manage hotspots within the Port Hills fire overnight.
Nearly 400 firefighters working to control the blaze on Thursday had made good progress, helped in part by more favourable weather conditions.
There are 11 people staying at the welfare centre at Te Hapua Halswell Centre.
Fifteen crew from the United States Coast Guard heavy icebreaker USCGC Polar Star are assisting police and the New Zealand Defence Force in the evacuated areas.
Orion reports that as at 7.45pm there were 126 customers still without power. Some supplies are expected to be restored overnight.
7:24pm: Cordons remain in place with police and Defence Force staff patrolling.
Police say a large number of homes will have suffered damage from smoke, heat and fire. The number of damaged homes in total will not be known until the fire emergency has ended.
All current cordons will remain in place tonight and into tomorrow.
Residents who chose to remain behind the cordons now have a special provision to exit the cordons and return.
To re-enter they must register at the cordon point and provide photo identification. They must also carry documentation proving their occupancy such as a bill or rates invoice.
Offers of assistance have been received from the United States and Australia to support the Port Hills fire response.
United States Coast Guard heavy icebreaker USCGC Polar Star offers to help and Air Force C-130 Hercules strategic airlift aircraft left for Australia this afternoon to pick up five pallets of firefighting foam and other fire-retardant materials.
14 helicopters and 3 fixed wing aircraft were used today
Special fire pods are being used to shoot high-pressure water into the ground to extinguish roots burning below the surface.
Almost 400 people have been on the ground fighting the blaze.
An additional fire response team made up of four experienced firefighters has been sent to join the six Army firefighters currently working with Selwyn fire authorities.
At this stage the Emergency Operations Centre has received no information about the status of individual homes.
Much of the area behind cordons is very dangerous and the priority for all agencies is to get the fire under control.
People can call 0800 777 846 for support and general practice medical centres are open for those who feel unwell or unable to cope. It is normal to feel anxious or stressed during abnormal events, and talking about how you feel to someone you trust can help.
5:02pm: Wreckage has been recovered from the site of the helicopter crash where pilot Steve Askin was killed. It will now be transported to Wellington, where crash investigators will examine it.
The wreckage was airlifted from the site, which is near Sugar Loaf, in five loads.
Commission investigator Steve Walker said the recovery operation this afternoon was challenging: “The wreckage was in a steep gully under the Sugarloaf and conditions were hot and windy, making it challenging for the ground crew loading the wreckage, and the investigators. ”
It is the latest challenge for the team of investigators, who have not been able to get to the site at some points because of the flames.
One of three Christchurch-based crash investigators has also faced his own personal challenges, as his own home was in the path of the flames and his family had to be evacuated last night.
4:30pm: Kordia chief executive Scott Bartlett said it was continuing to monitor its tower at the summit of Sugar Loaf. There was no change in its status as of 4.30pm. “We are continuing to monitor the site and wind direction at the summit closely and will continue to do so for the remainder of the day and overnight. We are prepared to activate emergency restoration plans if required. Our thoughts remain with the residents of Christchurch and emergency services doing everything they can to help.”
4:29pm: Firefighters are calling for more water tankers up Kennedys Bush Rd to assist fighting the fire. They have asked for 4WD vehicle specifically. Firefighters have noticed another flare up.
4.25pm: 128 customers remain without power in the Port Hills area. Power supply has been maintained to the rest of the city throughout the day. Lines in the fire affected area in the Port Hills remain off grid, and power continues to be rerouted, including through Orion’s new underground, Northern Loop cable. Orion asks residents and businesses to conserve power where ever possible, to reduce the load on the network while it is in contingency mode. It is possible that there will be further outages until the fires are fully extinguished.
3:37pm: There are reports of a vegetation fire in the Bottle Lake plantation, Lower Styx Rd.
3:30: Two people have been treated at hospital for smoke inhalation from the Port Hills fires, including a firefighter, with a third admitted for an injured ankle. A Christchurch Hospital spokeswoman said one man had injured his ankle while evacuating – but was okay. “We had a firefighter present for smoke inhalation – they’re also okay now. And we’ve had one male child – 9 years – present for asthma being exacerbated by smoke,” she said.
3:05pm: The Government has accepted help from United States research vessel, Polar Star, in its efforts to fight the fires.
2:30pm: Minister of Civil Defence Gerry Brownlee said the most accurate information he had was from the media.
“You’ve got to remember this was not a civil defence matter in the initial stages. It was a rural fire matter, I don’t want any suggestion out there from me they have being doing anything other than an amazing job. These are very brave people and doing a very good job.”
Prime Minister Bill English said he had received a briefing about the investigations into the cause of the fires. He had been informed the fires had started in two different places, around the same time. He said it was a bit “odd”.
“I wouldn’t want to jump to conclusions,” he said.
He said it could take “days or a week” for the fire to be dealt with.
He praised the work of the fire crews.
Mr Brownlee said he did not call in a State of Emergency himself, because he was in Wellington not Christchurch and he did not want to assume the situation in the city.
He said there are “perhaps” some gaps between the fire service, rural fire service and Civil Defence and they needed to be “straightened out”.
Mayor Lianne Dalziel said she wanted a review of the timing of calling the State of Emergency. She said she didn’t believe the timing of declaring a State of Emergency would have impacted the outcome.
Mayor Sam Broughton agreed with Ms Dalziel, saying fire crews were doing everything they could.
“There is not another helicopter that could fit in the airspace safely,” he said.
He said the fire would be smoldering for weeks.
2.25pm: The following roads are currently closed because of the Port Hills fire – Cashmere Rd is closed at Hendersons Rd; Cashmere Rd is closed at Kaiwara St; Worsleys Rd is closed at Cashmere Rd; Hoon Hay Valley Rd is closed at Cashmere Rd; Kennedys Bush Road is closed at Cashmere Rd; Sutherland R is closed at Cashmere Rd; Penruddock Rd is closed at Cashmere Rd; Worsleys Track from Worlseys Rd is closed; Dyers Pass Rd is closed between Hackthorne Rd to Governors Bay Rd (use the Lyttelton Tunnel or Gebbies Pass as the alternate route); Summit Rd is closed between Gebbies Pass and Rapaki Track; Old Tai Tapu Rd is closed between Osterholts Rd and Early Valley Rd; Early Valley Rd is closed at Old Tai Tapu Rd; Holmes Rd is closed at Old Tai Tapu Rd.
2:09pm: Cashmere Residents’ Emergency Support hub open at the Cashmere Presbyterian Centre hall, 2 Macmillian Ave.
1:40pm: Subway outlets are giving hundreds of sandwiches to fire fighters.
1:20pm: English said there had been offers of help from Australia and the appropriate people were assessing whether it was required.
He said there were currently enough resources on the ground.
1:13pm: Media conference: Prime Minister Bill English says the fire is contained but not controlled. When asked if a State of Emergency was declared early enough he said that fire fighters are doing everything they can.
When asked about the Civil Defence response, English said some believed it should have been declared a state of emergency earlier. He would not comment on it saying it would be looked into later.
“No doubt someone will look at whether the processes should have been different.”
He said Brownlee had a clear opinion about it.
“The most urgent issue has been containing the fire.”
He said the fire fighters were highly skilled and had been successful.
12.45pm: Prime Minister Bill English and Gerry Brownlee are in the air surveying the fire scene.
12.17pm: Fire crews on Worsleys Rd have lost water pressure and are attempting to get it back.
12:15pm: Flames 6 to 8 metres tall are threatening a house at Kennedys Bush. Two fire crews are on the way.
12:12pm: Firefighters in the Christchurch Adventure Park have setup monitoring stations at the base of the chairlift and cafe as a contingency plan.
11:32am: More fire appliances are being called to the Christchurch Adventure Park to help battle the fire.
11.19am: The impact of the fires on people is starting to be felt. Canterbury Civil Defence Controller John Mackie said they received a report of five incidents from health services. He said health and welfare services are also turning their attention to the psycho-social impact of the fires.
10:51am: More fire appliances are being asked to reinforce firefighters battling blazes on Worsleys Rd and Hoon Hay Valley Rd. Two have been sent to each site.
10:54am: A Givealittle page setup up for the pilot killed fighting the Port Hills fire on Tuesday has gathered momentum with $56,529 donated by 848 people so far.
9:57am: The joint briefing between emergency response agencies has taken place in Christchurch this morning. Details will be released by the city council shortly.
9:26am: Downed power lines are making it difficult for firefighters to fight a house blaze on Worsleys Rd.
9:25am: The Ministry of Education have just confirmed that Governors Bay School is open, after earlier saying it was closed. Cashmere Primary, Cashmere Early Learning Center, Kidsfirst Cashmere Kindergarten are closed.
9:22am: The Civil Defence bunker at Parliament is being activated.
9:18am: Superintendent Lane Todd, from Christchurch police, said it was too early to say if any of the fires were deliberately lit. A small team of investigators were working with the Fire Service to determine how they began.
9:00am: Valley of Peace Cricket club do not know whether the historic club has survived. The 90-year-old club is based at the top of Hoon Hay Valley Rd, where four houses were destroyed yesterday afternoon. Club member Derek Banks said members could not get access so they did not know whether it had been wiped out or not. He said he was at the club early afternoon yesterday. “It [fire] certainly moved progressively down over the last couple of days,” he said. “We’re concerned about the people who have got their homes at risk.”
8:39am: Governors Bay fire fighters are have sent a unit to the Ohinetahi Valley.
8:34am: Smoke is billowing from the Ohinetahi Valley, thought to be behind Governors Bay St Cuthbert’s Church.
8:18am: Metro bus Blue Line trips will end at The Princess Margaret Hospital, no trips will run to the Cashmere Hill. All bus routes travelling to Westmorland will end trips on Cashmere Rd near Penruddock Rise. Bus trips will depart travelling towards stop 33348 on Cashmere Rd.
Governors Bay School and Cashmere Primary School are closed.
8:09am: A house is reported to be on fire Worsley Rd, between Tisbury Lane and Aglaia Place. Eight houses are now believed to have been destroyed.
7.56am: The Christchurch Adventure Park has just confirmed park and base station is still standing and that the chairlift is still running.
7.52am: Military help for Christchurch is on standby – but hasn’t yet been asked for. Lieutenant Colonel Rob Loftus said almost 40 Defence Force personnel are on the ground so far. The Defence Force has been helping out with evacuations. Civil Defense minister Gerry Brownlee said it is up to the Fire Service to ask for further help – he is concerned they’ll leave it too late, Newstalk ZB reports.
7.30am: Broadcast provider Kordia has activated its disaster recovery plan as the fire engulfs land around Sugar Loaf. It has activated its disaster recovery plan and is transporting spare equipment to Christchurch.
7.27am: The first fire, on Early Valley Rd, is understood to have been caused by an electrical problem. The cause of the Marleys Hill fire is not yet known, but it started in a car park off Summit Rd. The two fires have now combined.
7.25am: Prime Minister Bill English has tweeted this morning, thanking emergency crews for their tireless work and urging people in Christchurch to follow Civil Defence advice. English said that his thoughts were with those affected by the fires.
7.23am: Cashmere Primary School is closed today. Cashmere High School at this stage is still open.
6.57am: Police are being sent to Worsleys Rd to investigate a report of a member of public in the area. Police have stessed it is imperative that members of the public keep away from the hills. People “rubber-necking” are disrupting the emergency response and making it harder for police and fire services to do their jobs.
6.55am: Around 126 homes remain without power due to the fire.
6.53am: About 30 evacuees have gathered at the Halswell library, 9km south of Christchurch. Lynda Burdekin, of Christchurch Civil Defence, said the library is set up with mattresses, blankets and kitchen facilities. “Not a huge number stayed overnight, most managed to find accomodation, go to friends.” She said there were five cars with people sleeping in them overnight, in order to be with their pets that they had brought with them.
6.46am: Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee will arrive in Christchurch on Thursday morning. He has been critical of how long it took for a State of Emergency to be declared and questioned why rural firefighters were in charge of a fire inside the city boundaries.
6.44am: Helicopter crews are starting to rejoin firefighting efforts. Aerial teams could be seen leaving the Christchurch Airport area at daybreak on Thursday.
6.41am: Latest road closure information from the Christchurch Transport Operations Centre:
• Cashmere Rd is closed west of Kaiwara St through to Kennedys Bush Rd.
• Worsleys Rd is closed.
• Hoon Hay Valley Rd is closed
• Kennedys Bush Rd is closed form the roundabout with Rock Hill Dr. This includes the southbound cycle track
• Worsleys Track from Worlseys Rd is closed
• Dyers Pass Rd is closed between Hackthorne Rd to Governors Bay Rd. Use the Lyttelton Tunnel or Gebbies Pass as the alternate route
• Summit Rd is closed between Gebbies Pass and Rapaki Track
• Old Tai Tapu Rd is closed between Osterholts Rd and Early Valley Rd
• Early Valley Rd is closed
• Holmes Rd is closed.
6.37am: The MetService has predicted a high of 21 deg C today with wind gusts of up to 45 km/h expected across Christchurch. Patches of rain is forecast for Friday and Saturday.
6.24am: The latest report is the fire has spread to the harbour side of Sugar Loaf. Evacuations are continuing on the Port Hills with a total of 450 properties officially evacuated. Others have self-evacuated as the fire spread overnight.
In addition to the Christchurch fire ban, a total fire ban is now in place from South Canterbury through to the north end of the Hurunui District.
Christchurch Civil Defence Controller David Adamson said there has been a phenomenal amount of ground staff working through the night, with addition crews set to continue the effort from day break.
“The fire now spans a large front . . . the situation remains very serious. Police and the Defence Force have had a huge job overnight with evacuations, the setting-up of cordons around key areas and security patrols of areas that have been evacuated.”
Police are stressing that it is imperative that members of the public keep away from the hills. People “rubber-necking” are disrupting the emergency response and making it harder for police and fire services to do their jobs.
6:07am: Civil Defence revised down the number of homes destroyed on Worsley Spur to at least three after earlier issuing a statement saying 40 homes had been lost. A spokeswoman said the error was the result of misinformation being given to a rural fire officer and was revised following a “correction from the police on earlier information.”
6.06am: More than 1000 residents have fled their homes and at least eight properties have burned to the ground as a huge wild fire rages on in Christchurch. Several fires have now merged into one which is threatening dense residential housing. The blaze is estimated to have scorched more than 1850ha of land and is still growing.
4.55am: Police are now evacuating residents downhill of the Sign of the Takahe on Dyers Pass Rd as far as and including Kiteroa Pl and Pentre Tce. Residents will be contact directly by police who are in the area now knocking on doors. If you feel unsafe, you are advised to self-evacuate. Police have continued to express concerns about traffic and people in the area and directed all non-residents to stay away, keeping it clear for emergency services.
3.25am: There are still some very active fire fronts up on the Port Hills, but not as many as there were prior to midnight. A large number of fire crews have been on the ground working hard to protect properties overnight. A drop in fire activity can also be attributed to a decrease in temperature and a rise in humidity. Helicopters are expected to start an aerial attack at first light. Approximately 400 households have been evacuated in the areas around Victoria Park/Dyers Pass Road, Worsleys Rd, Westmorland and Kennedys Bush.
2am: Six people from Pentworth Pl in Westmorland have been evacuated and are sleeping over at Te Hapua, which has been opened for evacuated residents, along with Nga Hau e Wha Marae. It appears most people that have been evacuated have found their own accommodation. In addition to rural fire staff, a group of 86 made up of 50 New Zealand Police and 36 New Zealand Defence Force personnel are working overnight on the Port Hills Fire response. They are doing evacuations, joint patrols and reassuring people in the areas impacted by the fires.
Thursday 12.59am: The Port Hill fires have now merged into one, developing significantly during the afternoon and into this evening. At least three additional houses have been destroyed in the area of Worsleys Rd.
9:55: Authorities issue urgent evacuations: “Residents in the area from the Sign of the Takehe to Victoria Park should evacuate their homes immediately. Authorities are advising that the fire has crossed Dyers Pass Road into Victoria Park. Police and the Defence Force are evacuating properties in the area. We are also evacuating the south side of Cashmere Road to Kennedy’s Bush Road, and to Hoon Hay Valley Road.”
9:44pm: Canterbury Regional Controller Neville Reilly has been deployed to the Christchurch Civil Defence Emergency Operations Centre to head the overall response to the fires.
The fires are burning within an estimated 1,655 hectare area on both sides of the Port Hills, but not all of this area is alight as the fire has been extinguished in some locations.
Around 300-400 people have been officially evacuated from homes in Worsley Road, Cracroft, the bottom of Hoon Hay Valley Road and the Westmorland area. Hundreds of others across the hills have self-evacuated as the fire spreads.
A welfare centre has been set up at Te Hapua Halswell Centre to assist evacuated residents. Only a handful of residents have visited the centre seeking information.
9:39pm: Fire fighters at the Sign of the Takahe cordon are telling residents above the landmark to leave their homes as the fire spreads, with reports it has moved into Victoria Park.
8:40pm: Firefighters are desperately trying to save the Christchurch Adventure Park, with fire now having spread past the base of the chairlift. Firefighters have surrounded the village at the bottom of the park to try and save it.
8:34pm: Police say there have been no further evacuations since people had moved out of Kennedys Bush.
8:33pm: Police will have extra patrols out tonight to assist those in areas affected by the fires. They would also be checking on those affected by power outages.
8:16pm: Hurunui District Council has declared a total fire ban from 8am, Friday.
7:23pm: Victoria Park Rd, from the Sign of the Takahe, is now residents only.
7:17pm: Orion says it is on full alert ready to respond to any issues with power supply as a result of the fires. It says the unpredictability of the fire and the course it may take poses some threat to continuity of power supply to the Port Hills and the greater city. “It is possible that there will be further outages until the fires are fully extinguished.” The company is working closely with emergency services to co-ordinate its response to any developments.
6:57pm: Fire fighters are currently trying to protect a number of houses on Hoon Hay Valley Rd threatened by fire.
6:50pm: Cashmere Rd is now closed from Kaiwara St to Kennedys Bush Rd due to evacuations in Lower Cashmere, Cracroft, Westmorland and Kennedys Bush.
6:45pm: There will be a community meeting for Governors Bay residents at the Governors Bay Fire Station tonight at 7:30PM. This will be to give updates to residents on how the fire is progressing.
6:43pm: A house has been destroyed, while fire fighters are working hard to save another. Star.kiwi will have more information soon.
6:41pm: There are unconfirmed reports that Pentre Tce, by the Sign of the Takahe, is being evacuated.
6:22pm: Fire fighters battling flames at the Christchurch Adventure Park only have about an hours worth of water left. Crews are scrambling to get more water to them.
6:18pm: Pioneer Stadium is no longer the evacuation center for displaced residents. They are now being directed to go to Halswell Library instead.
6:15pm: The mayors of Christchurch and Selwyn have made a joint decision to declare states of emergency in the areas.
6:00pm: A command centre has been set up at the Sign of the Takahe.
5:58pm: The Christchurch Adventure Park’s Facebook page today’s events as “heart breaking”. It thanked everyone for their messages of support.
5:42pm: A Facebook group has been set up called Evacuation housing to offer housing for those displaced from the fire.
5:37pm: Evacuation centres have been set up for those displaced from the fire. A centre for Selwyn residents has been set up at the Selwyn Events Centre on Meijer Drive in Lincoln. Christchurch residents who have been evacuated have been told to go to Pioneer Stadium.
5:32pm: Fire fighters say the blaze will “punch” its way out of McVicars Plantation and hit the first corner of Dyers Pass Rd below the Sign of Kiwi before dark.
5:28pm: Fire service has just issued a directive for all vehicles to get off Dyers Pass Rd.
5:18pm: Police have confirmed houses on Kennedys Bush Rd and its intersecting streets are being evacuated. Residents are heading to Pioneer Stadium.
5:15pm: Four helicopters with monsoon buckets appear to have saved a house near Old Tai Tapu Rd. A 200m fire front heading towards the property has been extinguished.
5:12pm: Fire retardant is being dropped on houses in Kennedys Bush. Residents are being been evacuated.
5:10pm: Reports of residents being evacuated from the Cracroft area.
4:45pm: Star.kiwi reporter Andrew King is watching a fire front of about 200m coming down a hill towards a property near Old Tai Tapu Rd.
4:36pm: Residents on Kennedys Bush Rd, above Halswell Quarry, are being evacuated. Police are telling them to go to Pioneer Stadium, Spreydon.
4:20pm: The wind direction has changed from nor west and southerly to nor east, which Selwyn principal rural fire officer, Douglas Marshall, said makes vegetation that was not at risk initially, is now. The vegetation is largely pine.
4:00pm: Hoon Hay Valley Rd has been closed to the public due to rubberneckers. Residents still have access to their properties.
3:59pm: Police have cordoned off Westmorland at Cashmere Rd and are urging people to prepare for an evacuation.
3:50pm: A strong easterly wind change is fuelling the blaze in the Lansdowne Valley area. The fire has grown in size in the last hour.
3:47pm: Worsleys Rd is closed to the public from Cashmere Rd. Residents may be permitted access but must report to police at cordons at the location.
3:45pm: Traffic is backed up down the roads around Westmorland as residents are evacuated. Parents picking up their children from school in the area are being redirected out of Westmorland.
3:31pm: Helicopter resources are stretched and one is not available at the moment to drop water on the Christchurch Adventure Park.
3:30pm: Traffic on Cashmere Rd near The Princess Margaret Hospital, is being diverted on the north side of the Heathcote River.
3:25pm: Police are evacuating residents from homes on Worsleys Rd near Summit Rd. Three houses are under threat from the fire. A Cashmere resident described it as an “inferno”.
3:20pm: Canterbury Transport Operations Centre has asked mountain bikers, walkers and runners to stay off the Port Hills between the suburbs of Huntsbury and Kennedy’s Bush to allow emergency services to work on area affected by the fires.
3:15pm: Fire crews are currently working to control a flare up in Worsleys Spur area in the vicinity of the Christchurch Adventure Park.
3:10pm: Fire units are on their way to Worsleys Rd, Kennedy’s Bush, after reports houses are being threatened.
3:00pm: Victoria Park is being closed as thick smoke billows from the Christchurch Adventure Park.
2:50pm: Burwood residents say there is a fire in Bottle Lake forest.
2:30pm: More fire service resources are being sent to the Christchurch Adventure Park, to assess if structures can be saved.
2:21pm: Civil Aviation enforces restricted airspace. Police issued a warning not to use drones near the Port Hills as fire crews work to battle the fires burning.
Police say people are using them to photograph the blazes.
“There are a number of aircraft flying in the area as they try to put out the blaze and for that reason the Civil Aviation Authority has enforced a restricted airspace,” said police.
1:56pm: Power outages across the city.
1:50pm: Fire has broken out in an area of grass and pine near the Kennedys Bush track, about 2lk from the Halswell Quarry Park. Dark black smoke is enveloping the area. Helicopters are fighting it with mosoon buckets.
12:30pm: Technicians are waiting to get access to transmitters that operate the city’s emergency services dispatch, including ambulance and police. Power was lost on Monday at the Marley Hill location and it is operating on batteries.
11.50am: About three helicopters are using Halswell Quarry Park’s ponds to fill their monsoon buckets. The park is closed, with police guarding the entrances on Cashmere and Kennedys Bush Rds.
VIDEO: Bridget Rutherford
11.49am : Bulldozers and heavy machinery have headed up Hoon Hay Valley Rd as fire begins to spread down the valley. The machinery will be used to create firebreaks to stop it spreading. Smoke has blanketed the valley. Helicopters are dropping monsoon buckets in the area.
11:13am: Tragedy in the hills: Police say they are continuing to investigate Tuesday’s tragic fatal helicopter crash, where pilot and former SAS serviceman David Askin died.
He was fighting the fires, when his helicopter went down.
Transport Accident Investigation is working alongside police.
“Assessments continue to be made today as to what sort of scene examination can be undertaken, as the fire situation there unfolds,” said police.
At Marley Hill there is fire activity near the Sign of the Kiwi and hotspots are continuing to burn at Early Valley where the fire has largely been controlled.
About 15 fire crews, with 120 firefighters and support crew, are involved in ground operations this morning. No further property damage has been reported overnight.
The Christchurch Adventure Park remains closed today, with firefighters working to control hotspots in that area.
Road closures include:
*Kennedys Bush Rd is closed form the roundabout at Rock Hill Drive. This includes the southbound cycle track. *Worsleys Track from Worlseys Rd is closed. *Dyers Pass Rd is closed between Hackthorne Rd to Governors Bay Rd. Use the Lyttelton Tunnel or Gebbies Pass as the alternate route. *Summit Rd is closed between Gebbies Pass and Rapaki Track. *Old Tai Tapu Rd is closed between Osterholts Rd and Early Valley Rd. *Early Valley Road is closed. *Holmes Rd and Holmeswood Rise. Residents are allowed access to their homes. Not open to through traffic.
10.34am: Conditions are fine and dry as firefighters continue to tackle fires on the Port Hills
MetService forecaster Cameron Coutts said winds were gentle, at about 17km/h, at the moment and had been blowing south west for some time.
A north east change with 37km/h winds should hit the hills from about mid-afternoon, before dying down tonight.
9.27am: Helicopters are using water from ponds and dams on farms in the Lansdowne area to fill monsoon buckets to fight the Early Valley Rd fire. Two helicopters can be seen in the air above the fire and two others are refueling.
9.09am – Health warning over smoke: Canterbury District Health Board has issued a health warning, telling people to stay indoors to avoid being affected by the smoke.
The health warning is for all residents near the fires, but most at risk were smokers, the elderly, children and those with heart disease, asthma or other lung disease.
Smoke may irritate the eyes, nose, throat and airways. Symptoms can include runny or sore eyes, dry or sore throat, sore nose, cough, tightness of the chest or difficulty breathing. Seek medical help if you are affected.
9am – “We’ve broken its back”: Governors Bay chief fire officer Andrew Norris said the fire that was threatening homes in Governors Bay and Allandale has been contained, but is not 100 per cent under control.
About 50 people who had evacuated from their homes at about 2am would be able to return around noon, except for about six homes in Ohinetahi Valley, where the “head” of the fire is.
Three helicopters are attacking the blaze from above while ground crews who were stationed at homes under threat have been withdrawn for now.
“We’ve broken its back. It could still flare up but it is contained,” he said.
5:00am Fire seen close to the chair lift at the Christchurch Adventure Park.
8:00am Helicopters are filling up monsoon buckets in the Heathcote River, corner of Hoon Hay Valley Rd and Cashmere Rd.
7:00am City council activates the Emergency Operations Centre to coordinate the welfare operation, which includes a welfare centre at Governors Bay School.
3:00am 700 Governors Bay and Allandale residents evacuated. Governors Bay School which is closed today
Wednesday 1:00am Marley’s Hill fire escalates, as fire spreads downhill through the forest. Comes within 150 metres of the Sign of the Kiwi.