Since last Wednesday there has been a major fire on the Port Hills in Christchurch. It has spread to around 650 hectares, and firefighters are still working to put it out.
When the fire started, many people who live in the area were evacuated and had to stay in community halls. Most have now been allowed to return home as the fire was brought under control near their houses. However, one woman, Anna Spark, lost her home and most of her belongings on Wednesday. She managed to rescue her three dogs, cat and goat but didn’t have time to take her family’s alpacas. Fortunately, she returned on Thursday to find they all survived. She said “the fact that they’re alive is amazing” because the fire went right through her family farm.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand have had over a hundred staff on the ground fighting the fire, as well as several helicopters and planes. The firefighters have sometimes been hampered by people coming to watch or trying to go walking on the hills. Also, on Sunday the helicopters had to stop flying because a private drone was being used in the area. The police and firefighters are asking people to stay away from the area and not to fly drones, so that they can do their work safely. Although the fire was contained in the weekend, there are still hotspots which fire crews are working hard to dampen down. The weather has not helped – there have been strong winds which can make the fire spread, high temperatures, and no rain until this morning.
It is not yet known how the fire started but both Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the police are investigating. Today police have received some information from people who were walking near where the fire started. However, they still don’t know the cause of the fire.
Meanwhile, another fire started on Sunday evening in Waikari Valley, in North Canterbury (that is, north of Christchurch). People were evacuated from their homes but were allowed to return home yesterday evening. Firefighters on the ground, supported by helicopters, have contained the fire but it is not completely out yet.
hectare = 10,000 square metres
put out a fire – to make a fire stop burning
be evacuated – be told to leave a place because it is dangerous
goat – an animal with horns on its head (see image below). Goats live wild in the mountains or on farms.
alpaca – an animal from South America (see image below)
hamper – to make it difficult for someone to do something. People coming to watch or walk on the hills made it difficult for the firefighters to work.
contained – stopped from spreading
drone – an aircraft that does not have a pilot, but is controlled by radio (see image below)
hotspots – a place where there is a lot of heat. Hotspots may turn back into a fire if they are not put out
dampen down – to make a fire burn more slowly or stop burning
Images (from Unsplash https://unsplash.com/)