December 8, 2023

‘Avoid the area’: Major road closed as large fire breaks out in Port Hills

Watch: Large fire breaks out in Christchurch's Port Hills.

Thick smoke is billowing into the sky from a large fire on Christchurch’s Port Hills.

A Newshub reporter at the scene said the fire is burning opposite the Challenge Petrol Station near Opawa Road in Christchurch.

The reporter said parts of Port Hills Road is closed.

Waka Kotahi said State Highway 76 was closed between Port Hills Rd and Chapmans Rd due to the fire.

A Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokesperson told Newshub they were alerted to a vegetation fire on the Port Hills in Christchurch around 11:15am.  

There are currently four appliances and two helicopters in attendance, working to bring the fire under control, according to the spokesperson.  

“A third helicopter is on its way. Fire and Emergency is asking the public to avoid the area, to allow crews access to the fire,” the spokesperson said.  

Affordable Storage is located on the Port Hills and provides storage units to Christchurch residents.

Operations Manager Morgan Williams said he was off-site when he was informed of the fire.

He came down to have a look at the scene at the same time the fire brigade arrived and he opened up gates for the firefighters.

“It seems as though what’s happened is a fire has started in grass behind our storage units and none of our storage units have been affected,” Williams said.

He acknowledged it must be “very hard for the firefighters” due to how steep the hills are.

Williams said how the fire started remains a “real mystery”.

He said he was concerned about the breeze but added the wind is “good for them”, as it’s blowing the flames away from their facility.

He said he has spoken with customers who use the storage units.

In February 2017, two separate fires started in the hills, which destroyed nine houses and a further two were significantly damaged by the blaze. Hundreds of residents were evacuated. 

A helicopter crashed while battling the blaze resulting in the death of the pilot.

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