Flames stop just 50 metres from vineyard in Port Hills fire

Cracroft Chase Vineyard had a lucky escape when fires that engulfed about 1800 hectares of the Port Hills narrowly ...
SUPPLIED/WILMA LARYN

Cracroft Chase Vineyard had a lucky escape when fires that engulfed about 1800 hectares of the Port Hills narrowly missed their property.

Alessandro and Wilma Laryn expected to find their vineyard burned to the ground.

Instead, they found "a piece of paradise". Surrounded by blackened hills, some just 50 metres away, their livelihood was intact.

The couple's business, Cracroft Chase Vineyard, is on the northern edge of where wild fire ripped through Christchurch's Port Hills last week.

Wilma and Alessandro Laryn at Cracroft Chase winery in 2015.
EWAN SARGENT/FAIRFAX NZ

Wilma and Alessandro Laryn at Cracroft Chase winery in 2015.

The Laryns left their property on Wednesday night, fearing the worst.

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"We started seeing the red of the flames coming down the hill towards the [Christchurch] adventure park, [which] is just behind us," Wilma said.

Wilma and Alessandro Laryn hope to open Cracroft Chase Vineyard by next weekend.
SUPPLIED/WILMA LARYN

Wilma and Alessandro Laryn hope to open Cracroft Chase Vineyard by next weekend.

"We had packed up the day before with our essentials and our most treasured items like family photos."

After hearing the fire had spread into Victoria Park, on the other side of their property, they expected they would return to "ruins".

But it was a different story when they were afforded a brief trip through the cordon to their property on Thursday.

Alessandro said the fire came to within 40 or 50 metres in some places.
SUPPLIED/WILMA LARYN

Alessandro said the fire came to within 40 or 50 metres in some places.

"It was absolutely untouched, it was a piece of paradise," Wilma said.

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"All the hills around were completely burned and it was wonderful greenery, luscious, at the bottom of the valley. It was really incredible."

Alessandro Laryn said he thought the property was saved by its position in the valley.

Firefighters had worked to contain the fire on the side of the Christchurch Adventure Park, and the fire had not spread down the Victoria Park side of the valley. 

"If you look through the photos . . . you see that the fire was only 40 or 50 metres from our property."

As soon as the cordon lifted, the Laryns were planning to get back to their property and open for business again.

"Certainly from next weekend the cellar door will be open," Wilma said.

 - The Press

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