Nelson fire: More houses evacuated as blaze continues

Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thursday, 7 February 2019, 5:21p.m.
The blaze has been burning for two days now. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Further evacuations are underway as a result of the Pigeon Valley Fire as winds and humidity start to increase.

Approximately 25 more properties have been affected in the west side of Teapot Valley, on top of the 182 properties that were already evacuated.

ZB Reporter Emme McKay told Larry Williams that she witnessed dozens of people fleeing the scene. 

"I've seen plenty of cars coming through, they are all packed with suitcases and bicycles. There's a lot just driving into town, just evacuating."

Teapot Valley Christian Camp director Paul Schutt has had two uneasy nights inside what was initially a cautionary cordon zone.

This afternoon police told him it was finally time to go.

He had spent the day helping a neighbour put out small spots of flames today, putting water through a weed sprayer.

"It was doing pretty well until the wind changed and then it was obvious our effort wasnt going to be any good, Schutt said.

"So we got out of there then."

His neighbour, who owns a big forestry block, was gutted, he said

"That's his future livelihood.

"Nobody knows what is going to be there tomorrow morning.

"If it all goes up in smoke then it's going to be pretty tough for him."

Fire and Emergency incident controller John Sutton told Larry Williams more than a hundred firefighters are on the ground.

"On top of that, there's about 20 heavy machinery, dozers and excavators that are working, 16 helicopters that are flying and all their ground support staff, plus there is three fixed wing aircraft."

Tasman District mayor Richard Kempthorne said he felt sorry for those who were being evacuated.

"I'm really sorry for the people involved and I know its really stressful – particularly for people with horses or livestock," he said.

"But the authorities who are asking them to evacuate are thinking of their safety."

Kempthorne said firefighters were putting their resources to best effect and working their way in from the perimeter to keep a buffer in place for people.

Kempthorne said he was pleased the government had decided to initially contribute $20,000 to the mayoral relief fund.

"It was really, really good of them."

Kempthorne said good communications lines were in place should the fire fighting efforts need more resourcing of any kind.

Nelson Tasman Civil Defence said the further evacuations are a precautionary measure because of the increased fire intensity they have seen this afternoon.

Police are assisting with evacuation and Red Cross are on the ground to support residents.

Civil Defence Minister Kris Faafoi the agencies on the ground say they have the resources they need at this stage.

"With those agencies plugged in at the Civil Defence centre along with Fire, if they need more, they will certainly cry out."



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