The Port Hills – a ruined landscape gallery video

Fairfax NZ

Port Hills fire damage from the air.

The whole of New Zealand has watched on in despair this week as wild fire engulfed the Port Hills, spewing smoke out across Christchurch below.

Part of the fear was the unknown. From Colombo St, in the central city, it was hard to see what was happening. It's only from the air you get a real sense of the extent of the devastation, and the cause of all that smoke.

1800 hectares, or 18 square kilometres, utterly destroyed. An area the size of the entire Pacific Island nation of Nauru.

The fire spread quickly into residential areas of the Port Hills on Wednesday.
DAVID WALKER/FAIRFAX NZ

The fire spread quickly into residential areas of the Port Hills on Wednesday.

The wicker-dry, hay-like grass of the hills is prime fodder for the kind of fire that has ruined the landscape. The vegetation is in sharp contrast to the veins of destruction running through it. It's the reason the hills are now painted in strange yellow and black patterns.

READ MORE:
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It's an odd sort of devastation. A random havoc that completely destroyed some areas and left others untouched as fire crept through valleys and up nooks, while missing other areas completely.

The Gordon family property on Early Valley Rd was destroyed.
DAVID WALKER/FAIRFAX NZ

The Gordon family property on Early Valley Rd was destroyed.

Sometimes a single house is miraculously spared while everything around it is obliterated. Other times, the fire has reached down through a narrow corridor, annihilated a property and then retreated suddenly, leaving everything around it unscathed. The fire swept down a hill behind the suburb of Cashmere on Thursday morning, destroying everything it touched, before suddenly retreating 15 minutes later.

A chaotic, powerful force of nature which takes hundreds of people, thousands of hours and millions of dollars to control.

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Fire damage at the Christchurch Adventure Park.
DAVID WALKER/FAIRFAX NZ

Fire damage at the Christchurch Adventure Park.

 - Stuff

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