Two fires on Christchurch's Port Hills stretch fire crews, destroys house, force evacuations video

GEORGE HEARD/STUFF.CO.NZ

Out of control fires in Christchurch.

Two fires that forced the evacuation of residents and destroyed at least one house on Christchurch's Port Hills will burn uncontained through the night.

Fire Service resources were stretched between two out-of-control scrub fires, one in Lansdowne on Early Valley Rd, another off Summit Rd near the Sign of the Kiwi.

The second blaze, on the Summit Rd, started just after 7pm, after a huge scrub fire began burning south of the city in the late afternoon.

A large fire on the Port Hills burns in the darkness.
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

A large fire on the Port Hills burns in the darkness.

Fire engines and helicopters battled the out-of-control blaze off Early Valley Rd, which left hillside paddocks blackened and destroyed at least one house, Fire Service spokeswoman Lyn Crosson said.

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At least three helicopters and eight city and rural fire engines were called in to fight the Lansdowne fire.

The fire on Summit Road above the Sign of the Kiwi on Monday, the second large fire of the evening.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

The fire on Summit Road above the Sign of the Kiwi on Monday, the second large fire of the evening.

Holmes Rd resident Graeme Causer said he believed several homes had been lost to the flames.

"I don't know for sure but the fire was all around them."

Once he noticed the fire, he ran to the top of his forestry block to check on several houses.

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The Port Hills fire at midnight on Thursday.

The slow-moving fire frontline burns across the Port Hills.

Victoria Park, south of Christchurch, burns as the Port Hills fires merged on Wednesday night.

Fire burns up the hillside at Victoria Park, south of Christchurch.

Fire burning in Victoria Park, Christchurch, on Wednesday evening.

Fire burning in Victoria Park, Christchurch, on Wednesday evening.

The Port Hills fire burns in Victoria Park, south of Christchurch.

Fire burning in Victoria Park, Christchurch.

The Port Hills fire burns in Victoria Park, Christchurch, on Wednesday evening.

Fire burning in Victoria Park, Christchurch, on Wednesday evening.

The blackened remains of a building destroyed by one of the fires that have torn across Christchurch's Port Hills.

Smoke from the Port Hills fires fills the air.

Helicopters with monsoon buckets were used to try and control the blaze.

Blackened earth and the remains of buildings are all that is left after huge fires on Christchurch's Port Hills.

Cars and buildings were destroyed in the fires.

Melted metal pools beneath the burned out remains of a car.

Smoke from the Port Hills blaze forms a dark backdrop to Christchurch's Colombo St.

Billowing smoke dwarfs houses as flames engulf the Port Hills.

The view of the fire on the Port Hills from Halswell as night falls.

The view of the fire on the Port Hills from Halswell as night falls.

A helicopter battles fires on the Port Hills.

A helicopter battles fires on the Port Hills.

A fire burns on the Port Hills, near Kennedy's Bush, south of Christchurch.

A fire burns on the Port Hills, near Kennedy's Bush, south of Christchurch.

Smoke roars out above the Port Hills.

A shed burns as the fire continues to travel across the Port Hills.

A helicopter flies over the Port Hills.

A fire burning on the Summit Rd, near the Sign of the Kiwi, in Christchurch.

Out of Control fire in Christchurch on Monday evening.

The fire rages on the Port Hills in Christchurch.

Fire engines and helicopters are battling the large out-of-control blaze.

Members of the public watch the Kennedy's Bush fire rise above the Port Hills on Monday evening.

Firefighters battling the blaze.

Fire burning on the Port Hills in southwest Christchurch.

View from Halswell looking up at the Port Hills.

View from a drone above Hoon Hay looking out on the Port Hills.

Fire burning on the Port Hills in southwest Christchurch.

The fire can be seen from central Christchurch.

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"With my neighbour we ran up to the top of Early Valley Rd and checked out one house, looked in every room but no one was there.

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"There was another house we wanted to check but the fire was to close."

Helicopters were filling monsoon buckets from his pond and swimming pool.

A fire burns on the Port Hills, near Kennedy's Bush, south of Christchurch.
GEORGE HEARD/FAIRFAX NZ

A fire burns on the Port Hills, near Kennedy's Bush, south of Christchurch.

Causer said if helicopters had battled the blaze earlier, and the Fire Service had listened to the advice of locals, the fire may not have spread so far.

"My neighbour is an ex-rural fire fighter, and he said the response from the helicopters was dismal.

"We were all screaming for helicopters because we knew fire engines just wouldn't be able to get in, but they took over an hour to arrive.

The fire rages on the Port Hills in Christchurch.
SUPPLIED/HELEN STANTON

The fire rages on the Port Hills in Christchurch.

"There should be a rule that, if it is peak fire season and the weather is dry and there is a northwest wind blowing, a fire on the Port Hills needs helicopters."

By 9.30pm, Causer said flames had reached the 60 hectares of mature forest on his property and were burning between 60 to 70 metres high. Helicopters had since stopped battling the blaze, unable to fly at night.

"All we can do is pray, but really there is no chance, the flames are just going to spread.

Port Hills fire viewed from Diamond Harbour.
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Port Hills fire viewed from Diamond Harbour.

"Who knows how far they will have gotten by morning."

Earlier, crowds gathered along any road with a view of the flames with at least 50 people at a lookout off Kennedys Bush Rd. 

Police cordoned off a section of Old Tau Tapu Rd between Halswell and Osterholts roads.

The second scorched a large area near the historic Sign of the Kiwi. 

Crosson said an area of 400 by 400 square metres was burning at Summit Rd near Marley's Hill.

At 10pm, Crosson said the fire was still burning uncontained and residents on Summit and Worsleys roads were being evacuated.

"Crews are currently working to prevent it jumping Summit Rd," she said.

"Summit Rd will remain closed for the night."

 - Stuff

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