NZ Local News

Christchurch Port Hills fire in pictures: Aerial photos show scorched landscape

Editor Written by Editor · 2 min read >


Huge swathes of Christchurch’s Port Hills are completely scorched as a scrub fire continues to spread tonight. Aaerial photographs taken throughout the day reveal its scale and capture an incredible scene of smoke and flames.

More than 100 firefighters, 14 helicopters and two fixed-wing planes are racing to suppress and contain the blaze as strengthening winds threaten to spread it further.

Herald photographer George Heard has been on the scene for the past two days.

See our full coverage here.

A helicopter, one of 14 battling the fire today, drops a monsoon bucket on to the fire on the Port Hills. Photo / George Heard
A helicopter, one of 14 battling the fire today, drops a monsoon bucket on to the fire on the Port Hills. Photo / George Heard

Smoke billows from the fire, with a chairlift pylon from the Christchurch Adventure Park visible to the left. Photo / George Heard
Smoke billows from the fire, with a chairlift pylon from the Christchurch Adventure Park visible to the left. Photo / George Heard

The fire was reported at 2.45pm on Wednesday on Worsleys Rd and by 7pm had spread over an area of 100 hectares. Photo / George Heard
The fire was reported at 2.45pm on Wednesday on Worsleys Rd and by 7pm had spread over an area of 100 hectares. Photo / George Heard

Smoke rises from a torched landscape on the Port Hills. Photo / George Heard
Smoke rises from a torched landscape on the Port Hills. Photo / George Heard

Civil Defence said while the smoke may look like it is "diminishing" there was no room for complacency: "Please don't think it's over." Photo / George Heard
Civil Defence said while the smoke may look like it is “diminishing” there was no room for complacency: “Please don’t think it’s over.” Photo / George Heard

Christchurch is in a local state of emergency as more than 100 firefighters battle the blaze. Photo / George Heard
Christchurch is in a local state of emergency as more than 100 firefighters battle the blaze. Photo / George Heard

Properties were evacuated, including a nearby hospital, as thick plumes of smoke spewed out. Photo / George Heard
Properties were evacuated, including a nearby hospital, as thick plumes of smoke spewed out. Photo / George Heard

Christchurch mayor Phil Mauger and neighbouring Selwyn District Council mayor Sam Broughton agreed to announce a local state of emergency at 6.13pm on Wednesday. Photo / George Heard
Christchurch mayor Phil Mauger and neighbouring Selwyn District Council mayor Sam Broughton agreed to announce a local state of emergency at 6.13pm on Wednesday. Photo / George Heard

The National Public Health Service issued a warning about the smoke and the harm it could cause residents nearby. Photo / George Heard
The National Public Health Service issued a warning about the smoke and the harm it could cause residents nearby. Photo / George Heard

Christchurch can be seen in the distance as the fire continues to burn on Thursday. Photo / George Heard
Christchurch can be seen in the distance as the fire continues to burn on Thursday. Photo / George Heard

People watch on as the fire smoulders. Photo / George Heard
People watch on as the fire smoulders. Photo / George Heard

Fire and Emergency was investigating the cause of the fire but didn't have any updates on Thursday. Photo / George Heard
Fire and Emergency was investigating the cause of the fire but didn’t have any updates on Thursday. Photo / George Heard

Fire commanders on the scene were comfortable that it was not spreading too quickly and the situation was constantly being assessed. Photo / George Heard
Fire commanders on the scene were comfortable that it was not spreading too quickly and the situation was constantly being assessed. Photo / George Heard

Fire and Emergency would not rule out further evacuations if further people were at risk. Photo / George Heard
Fire and Emergency would not rule out further evacuations if further people were at risk. Photo / George Heard

Early Thursday morning

At 7.30am today, the fire area measured 630ha with a 12km perimeter. Photo / George Heard
At 7.30am today, the fire area measured 630ha with a 12km perimeter. Photo / George Heard

Police have urged “disaster tourists” to stay away from the scene, as they are hindering not only EMS staff accessing the fire site but also residents getting in and out. Photo / George Heard
Police have urged “disaster tourists” to stay away from the scene, as they are hindering not only EMS staff accessing the fire site but also residents getting in and out. Photo / George Heard

Worsleys Rd was at the epicentre of the devastating 2017 fires. Wildfires then burned through a total of 1600ha, destroyed nine homes and damaged another five. Photo / George Heard
Worsleys Rd was at the epicentre of the devastating 2017 fires. Wildfires then burned through a total of 1600ha, destroyed nine homes and damaged another five. Photo / George Heard

Smouldering trees and a vast expanse of scorched scrubland could be seen over the landscape. Plumes of smoke were billowing out and trees were consumed by flames. Photo / George Heard
Smouldering trees and a vast expanse of scorched scrubland could be seen over the landscape. Plumes of smoke were billowing out and trees were consumed by flames. Photo / George Heard

A reporter on the scene on Wednesday saw anxious residents looking on at the fire, worried, as orange flames could be seen rising from the smoke below. Photo / George Heard
A reporter on the scene on Wednesday saw anxious residents looking on at the fire, worried, as orange flames could be seen rising from the smoke below. Photo / George Heard

Fire continues to burn

At a press briefing at 3pm, Fire and Emergency NZ (Fenz) region manager Brad Mosby said the fire was still not considered contained.

Mosby said the burn area was “significant” and there was no update on what its cause could have been.

“It is a long-duration event, even if we brought the fire under control today it would take many more days for … [us to] mop up. We won’t be leaving the site until we are absolutely sure this fire is out,” Mosby said.

At 7.30am today, it measured 630ha with a 12km perimeter.

Mosby said it was clear the fire was going to be a “long-duration event”.

Fire retardant drops and buckets will carry on until dark and then again tomorrow.

“The fire has breached into the Adventure Park. It is still uncertain how far it has gone but we are working with management … there is no damage to any infrastructure at the park.”

No houses had yet been lost or were under threat.

Mosby said “there’s always the risk” the fire could spread as it did overnight. But crews were working extremely hard to make sure that no houses were damaged.

“We’re 24 hours into this event now and for our fire crews to be protecting those people’s properties and still not losing a home, due credit for those efforts.”

Fire behaviour experts were “working around the clock” to tell Fenz crews what was coming in terms of weather.

Firefighters are working 12-hour shifts and are being rotated out for breaks and food.

Another meeting for affected residents would be held at 7pm in Halswell.

Raphael Franks is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He joined the Herald as a Te Rito cadet in 2022.



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