Port Hills residents clean up and clear out
Out went the whitebait, the crayfish and paua – rotten and rank after days with no power to run the fridge or freezer. Then the Weet-Bix and the rest of the smoke-reeking open packets in the pantry.
So much for the supplies they'd carefully stocked up since the earthquakes, in case of another emergency.
Cory Beynon was cheery while waiting down at the cordon with 11-year-old son Levi, to get back into his Hoon Hay Valley Rd home.
But he admits to having a "wee meltdown" while clearing out seven rubbish bags full of rotten, smoke-stinking filth.
The spare work uniform for his panel-beating and painting business stayed in the cupboard – it was too smoke-contaminated to wear. It will be days before they know if the bedding and carpets can be cleaned or need to be replaced.
While fire bosses have declared the Port Hills fires 68 per cent controlled, officials told Beynon the heat was still surging, unseen, underground, keeping the Hoon Hay Valley residents from returning permanently.
Beynon went out to the trampoline lawn to test the ground.
"I took my crocs off, it was nice and toasty. And scary."
Beynon had already been home once, having pleaded the need to feed his 28 chickens and his cats Popeye and Olive, who were too old to move. He only had six minutes to evacuate, once he'd saved his classic cars out of storage at the bottom of the valley – a rare Skoda Felicia and a '73 customised Morris ute.
While the cars were safe, there was still plenty to lose if conditions changed and the fire sparked back up. He has a bit of a fetish for antiques, including an early-1800s vice.
"It's a museum."
Although Beynon's house was intact, he was critical of the disaster's management.
"It was managed incorrectly right from the word go. Civil Defence and the rural fire department and the army should have been called in earlier. The fire would have been a lot smaller. But they saved my house – which is good."
He, his partner Sharon, Levi and 15-year-old daughter Destiny are staying with friends – seven of them in a small house.
"We've got our lives, and that's the main thing."