Port Hills Fire Update

Port Hills Fire Public Update – Thursday 23 February

Public Update – 1pm

Fire operations

Fire services advise that 90% of the fire perimeter area is now considered to be controlled. Controlled is defined as bare earth or blacked out ground for at least 10 metres.

About 100 people are working in the fire area today, in both land-based and aerial operations. While most of the fire perimeter area is defined as controlled, within this area there are many hotspots which could potentially flare up under some weather conditions and these are the focus of much of the fire operation.

Drones continue to be used to assist with the fire operation. They were used overnight to gather thermal and infrared hotspot imaging information. The drones provide accurate information about hotspot locations which was given to fire crews to allow them to accurately identify which areas should be targeted to reduce fire activity. Fire services are also looking at whether the drones may be used during the daytime. For safety reasons, the drones are not used overhead inhabited properties.

Thermal imaging continues to show a steady reduction in hot spots across large parts of the fire area, as a result of work by fire crews on the ground. However there are still a number of locations with where hot spots are continuing to be detected. New hotspots are continuing to be mapped and identified.

Fire crews are also working to identify any unburnt vegetation within the fire area and to reduce the fire risk associated with these areas by creating fire breaks or removing vegetation.

Smoke and dust

Fire suppression activities may generate dust or smoke. Smoke concentrations are forecast to continue to reduce as the fire hot spots are cooled. Concentrations will be high near and above the fire ground and may spread to neighbourhoods closest to the fire. In higher winds dust may pick up from the fire ground and get carried off the hill. Today, the projected trajectory for dust and/or smoke is towards the western suburbs of the city with highest concentrations at the base of the hill.

Health effects from short term exposure to smoke the will be little more than a nuisance. It may irritate the eyes, nose throat or airways. People with pre-existing respiratory illness or heart disease may experience a worsening or recurrence of their condition. If you are troubled by smoke or dust close your windows and doors, and avoid going outside until it abates.

Anyone experiencing health issues relating to smoke or dust should phone their own GP team. After hours a nurse will answer the phone and can advise you what to do or where to go.