Fire chief finds chaotic scene

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 12/01/2013

West Melton fire

Wildfires destroy homes in New Zealand

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A senior volunteer firefighter says chaotic communications and blustery conditions made Thursday's wildfire on the outskirts of Christchurch one of the most challenging he has faced.

Rolleston fire chief Nigel Lilley said it was a miracle no-one was injured or killed in the blaze, which at its peak raged across a front of up to 2 kilometres between Prebbleton and Lincoln.

Lilley, a firefighter with 15 years' experience, described the scene as chaotic when he arrived about 1.30pm. "The fire had already jumped a couple of roads and it was spreading fast."

Crews struggled to get enough water and communications were in disarray because the radio channel kept picking up communications from firefighters battling a blaze in Islington.

Lilley said radio issues were no-one's fault, but a consequence of a hellish day for firefighters.

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- The Press

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