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Port Hills fire: Christchurch police speak with two people seen on walking track moments before blaze

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Police have spoken with two people seen on a walking track moments before the Port Hills fire was noticed, as part of their investigation into the blaze that covered more than 650ha.

More than 100 houses were evacuated after the fire on Christchurch’s Port Hills last Wednesday. One woman lost her “whole life” after her container home was destroyed.

Police have said the fire is being treated as unexplained.

The Herald can now reveal residents near Hoon Hay Valley Road 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.

Aerial images of the Port Hills fire in Christchurch which has been burning for days. Photo / George Heard
Aerial images of the Port Hills fire in Christchurch which has been burning for days. Photo / George Heard

A police spokesperson confirmed to the Herald police 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.

“Police are working through what they have said, as investigations are ongoing.”

Police earlier said Fire and Emergency New Zealand were conducting their initial investigations with police support.

Police earlier appealed for photos and videos of the Port Hills fire in its infancy.

“We’d like to hear from anyone with photos or videos of the Port Hills between 1.30pm and 5pm on February 13, 2024.”

A Fenz spokesperson said they had an “immediate response” to the request with 337 people providing mages and footage.

“Many people also included a description of what they saw at the time, and this has also been very helpful.”

Fenz said on Tuesday that just under 5mm of rain fell on the Port Hill fireground this morning.

A member of the public films as the Port Hill fire burns away in the background. Photo / Joe Allison
A member of the public films as the Port Hill fire burns away in the background. Photo / Joe Allison

Fenz incident controller Steve Kennedy said: “Overnight crews made great progress eliminating many of the hotspots and also the deep-seated burning at one of the largest skid sites.”

He confirmed the specialist drone crew continued thermal imaging overnight and identified further areas that require attention today.

Kennedy said the rain was welcome and would help fire suppression, but also meant conditions would become slippery.

“Access tracks on the steep terrain will be checked before crews start working on some parts of the fireground.”

Firefighters will again be working with the support of heavy machinery, and two helicopters are available.

It comes as Fenz confirmed the blaze is contained but is not out.

Kennedy earlier said crews were focusing on about 40 hotspots considered at risk.

The fire operations around the Port Hills are expected to run until at least Thursday.

The investigation into the cause of the fire is continuing.

Worsley Rd resident Anna Spark spoke to the Herald about losing her home.

Anna Spark lost her home in the Port Hills fire. She was living on family land in a shipping container. Photo / Joe Allison
Anna Spark lost her home in the Port Hills fire. She was living on family land in a shipping container. Photo / Joe Allison

“I’m still a bit in shock. A bit of panic, I’m without a home right now but I kind of trust people are going to help me, I’ve got my family around me. I’m not going to be homeless,” Spark said.

Anyone with images send them to police at 105.police.govt.nz, clicking “Update Report”. Please reference the case number 240215/0394 and include where and what time the photos or videos were taken.



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