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Christchurch Port Hills fire: Crews dampen final hotspot a month after blaze started

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Fire and Emergency (Fenz) crews say they “remain ready to react swiftly” after dampening the final hotspot on Christchurch’s Port Hills.

The large-scale blaze, which broke out on February 14, tore through 700ha of land, resulting in the evacuation of more than 80 residents and the destruction of one property.

Fenz commander Dave Stackhouse, said the fireground was officially handed back to the landowners last week after the final hotspot was extinguished.

“This marks the end of the largest wild fire in Canterbury since the previous Port Hills fire in 2017,” he said.

The large-scale blaze broke out on February 14, tearing through 700ha of land. Photo / George Heard
The large-scale blaze broke out on February 14, tearing through 700ha of land. Photo / George Heard

At its peak, the response involved firefighters from 44 brigades, a large number of support and incident management personnel and Fire and Emergency’s specialist drone team.

“It was a very stressful time for the residents living on the Port Hills and caused disruption to all the recreational users who had to stay away from their favourite trails for an extended period. We appreciate the way the community accommodated our operations while we put the fire out,” he said.

Fire and Emergency confirmed it will be carrying out a full operational review into the Port Hills fire as well as a review into the Waikari Valley fire in Hurunui, which occurred during the Christchurch fire.

The costs of the response have not yet been tallied.

Meanwhile, the cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

The ignition point was identified as within metres of a public walking track in a pine plantation on Worsleys Spur.

Police earlier confirmed they spoke with two people seen on a walking track moments before the Port Hills fire was noticed as part of their investigation.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Photo / George Heard
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Photo / George Heard

The Herald earlier revealed residents near Hoon Hay Valley Rd saw two people around a walking track on the hill followed by smoke.

The pair then drove off with residents taking photos of the car and sending them to the police.

Police confirmed to the Herald they had spoken to those people, as well as the ones in the car.

“Along with several others in the area, as they appear to be likely witnesses at this time.

Senior Sergeant Roy Appley earlier said police had a number of residents advise them about “suspicious activity” that they’ve seen up to and including on the first fire day.



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