Port Hills, Banks Peninsula tinder dry

05 May 2016

Months of warm, dry weather have left the Port Hills and Banks Peninsula drier than they were at the height of the summer, raising concerns about the fire risk.

On Wednesday night between three and five hectares of scenic reserve near the Sugarloaf car park on the Summit Rd were burnt in a fire that ripped quickly through native tussock and shrubland.

Dozens of firefighters and volunteers spent hours fighting the fire which, at one stage, threatened the Sugarloaf broadcasting tower. At its peak, the blaze could be seen from as far away as Dunsandel.

Christchurch City Council Acting Principal Rural Fire Officer Paul Devlin said it had taken a huge effort by firefighters and rural volunteers to bring the fire under control and Christchurch City Council fire crews were still at the scene on Thursday dampening the area down.

"It may feel autumnal but the reality is the Port Hills and Banks Peninsula are as dry now as they were at the height of the summer and the fire risk is very high,'' Mr Devlin said.

"Now is not the time to be lighting fireworks or doing anything that could unintentionally spark a fire. Fires create enormous danger for people, property and our natural environment and we don't want any more ''

Mr Devlin said it was important that people living on the Port Hills and in rural areas minimised the risk to their homes by keeping a defendable space between their home and vegetation.

If possible they should maintain a mown grass area that would slow the travel of the fire and buy time for firefighters to protect their house, if possible, or allow the owners to escape safely.

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