High rural firefighting costs for the Port Hills fires

Ownz Productions

Fires burn along ridges of the Port Hills in Christchurch.

The staggering cost of fighting February's destructive Port Hills fires is becoming clearer, with the rural firefighting service revealing its bill totals $7.9 million.

This amount, released on Thursday, included $2.1m for aircraft and $1.8m for rural fire staff. It is split between the Selwyn District Council (SDC) and the Department of Conservation (DOC).

It does not include costs incurred by the New Zealand Fire Service (now Fire and Emergency New Zealand) or Civil Defence expenses from SDC or the Christchurch City Council (CCC). 

A fire burns on the Port Hills, near Kennedys Bush, south of Christchurch.
GEORGE HEARD/STUFF

A fire burns on the Port Hills, near Kennedys Bush, south of Christchurch.

DOC contributed more than $4.5m to the fight against the devastating fires, which covered 1645 hectares and destroyed 11 homes. The organisation's 130 fully-trained rural fire fighters worked more than 11,000 hours during the blazes.

READ MORE:
Port Hills fires officially extinguished 66 days after they started
Christchurch's Port Hills fires not out yet but review on the way 
* Port Hills fire recovery plans drafted by May 
Damage assessment, rebuild plans begin at Christchurch Adventure Park after Port Hills fire 
An uneasy peace behind the cordons of Christchurch's Port Hills fires 
Fire heads down the valley to the Christchurch Adventure Park 

Two separate fires began on February 13 and raged uncontrolled in the hills before joining to form one huge blaze, which included much of the then eight-week-old Christchurch Adventure Park

The rural fire costs for battling the Port Hills fires was $7.9 million.
BRADEN FASTIER/STUFF

The rural fire costs for battling the Port Hills fires was $7.9 million.

Hundreds of firefighters battled the inferno from the ground and air. By February 28, the fire was 99 per cent under control.

It was declared extinguished on April 20 – more than two months after the fires began. 

Douglas Marshall, who acted as Selwyn principal rural fire officer, said he thought it was "probably the biggest rural fire cost that would have ever been lodged".

Helicopters costs made up $2.1 million of the overall firefighting expense.
GARY WILSON/SUPPLIED

Helicopters costs made up $2.1 million of the overall firefighting expense.

"The biggest fire Selwyn District Council would have had [before this], it would have been about $250,000 from memory."

Ad Feedback

He said though the cost was high, people should not forget the "significant cost" affected property owners had also paid. 

"It's clearly an extraordinary event in Christchurch and Selwyn life, and like any extraordinary event, it does have an extraordinary cost."

Christchurch City Council

A flyover of the fire area shows the extent of damage following the Port Hills fire.

While the majority of SDC's costs would be met by insurance with the Rural Fire Fighting Fund, they have to pay an excess of $195,000. There are also non-claimable costs of about $175,000. DOC's costs will come from the Government conservation budget.

Selwyn Mayor Sam Broughton said the cost reflected the significant scale of the firefighting operation. 

Fire and Emergency New Zealand do not have their cost figures available. A spokeswoman said part of their cost would have consisted of the normal operating costs, as on-duty firefighters and volunteers were a large part of the response. 

Selwyn principal rural fire officer Douglas Marshall says it was "probably the biggest rural fire cost that would have ...
IAIN MCGREGOR/STUFF

Selwyn principal rural fire officer Douglas Marshall says it was "probably the biggest rural fire cost that would have ever been lodged".

CCC general manager customer and community Mary Richardson said the council incurred Civil Defence costs of $69,600, and estimated staff time costs at about $500,000. 

"A lot of staff time will not be a direct cost to the ratepayer, as staff did a lot of this work over and above their normal work hours."

This work included running the Emergency Operations Centre, co-ordinating evacuations, assisting with resident access to cordoned areas and communicating with affected residents.

A firefighter dampens down areas affected by the Port Hills fires.
CHRISTCHURCH CITY COUNCIL/SUPPLIED

A firefighter dampens down areas affected by the Port Hills fires.

The blazes would cost insurers $18.3m, $10.3m of which was for residential claims. 

What started the flames was to be confirmed by rural wildfire investigator Graeme Still. 

He said he expected to be finished his report "within the next couple of weeks". It would then be given to the fire authorities.

The adventure park suffered significant damage in the Port Hills fires in February.
MICHAEL HAYWARD/STUFF

The adventure park suffered significant damage in the Port Hills fires in February.

He said there were "a few bits and pieces" being worked through because "you can't just write up a report on theory".

"It's a hell of a job to determine all these things."

Still said he could not comment on what they had found while the report was written.

The police were investigating, but could not proceed until the cause was determined. 

Police investigation lead Detective Inspector Greg Murton said officers had done "as much as we can" on their probe until until they had a steer on the cause of the blaze. 

"We're still awaiting the fire expert reports before we can finalise our inquiries."

He said the investigation was "quite a complex matter" because the fire started in two places. 

An operational review on how fire authorities responded to the emergency was under way, with results expected in October. 

RURAL FIREFIGHTING COSTS BREAKDOWN

Aircraft - $2,166,098
Rural Fire Authority personnel - $1,794,081
Rural Fire Authority equipment and vehicles - $795,573
Contracted firefighting personnel - $568,224
Contracted firefighting equipment - $80,882
Consumables, e.g cordons, investigation - $1,000,059
Fire retardant - $913,313
Heavy machinery - $629,086
Total - $7,947,317

 - Stuff

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Sport: Ten in starting XV

Auckland and Aorere College No.8 Glory Aiono was named player of the tournament at the combined Blues/Chiefs regional ...

South Auckland players dominate the champion Auckland under-15 girls' rugby team. South Auckland players dominate the Auckland's champion under-15 girls' rugby team.

Winning ticket kept under pillow

The Auckland woman knows exactly what she's going to do with the money.

Powerball's latest millionaire spent a restless night waiting to claim her $8 million Lotto prize.

Writing improves overnight

Northcross Intermediate principal Jonathan Treadway said marking writing was subjective.

A new method of teaching writing has seen achievement rise at one Auckland intermediate school

Blank round fired in court

Gustav Sanft is on trial for the manslaughter of his two-year-old daughter.

Gustav Sanft wailed in court as the sawn-off shotgun which killed his two-year-old daughter was fired as evidence.

Wellington

Sports fields turn to mudbaths

Wellington City Council may be forced to close some of the city's traditional grass sports fields, or restrict play on ...

All Wellington's grass sports fields are closed, with many now "sodden bogs".

Porirua rates shock 

The hilltop suburb of Camborne, overlooking Pauatahanui Inlet, has had the highest average rates increase in Porirua ...

Many residents have been flabbergasted by double-digit increases on their bills.

'Always challenge parking tickets'

Consumers should challenge "unreasonable" parking tickets,  Consumer NZ advises.

Pay what's reasonable and let them chase you for the rest, says Consumer NZ.

Matterhorn bar to close

Matterhorn restaurant has called Cuba St home for 54 years.

Wellington bar will have to shut so old Farmers building can be strengthened.

Canterbury

Going blind with no warning

Andy Dickerson says he's "very lucky" an eye exam revealed he had glaucoma - before he went blind.

Andy Dickerson had no symptoms, no family history, and good eyesight – but he was going blind.

Rebuilds years late

Construction continues at Waltham School. The school's redevelopment was meant to be completed last year.

Education Ministry says all on schedule to finish in 2022, but just 12 of the 115 rebuilds are complete so far.

Assault ends career

The relief teacher grabbed the boy's backpack, but the strap broke and the boy fell between closing doors.

Teacher grabbed 12-year-old's backpack for a word, but the strap broke and the boy fell.

Sheep to the rescue

Rabbits catch a ride out of floodwaters on a flock of sheep on a Taieri Plains farm.

A small colony of rabbits rode a flock of sheep to safety from the floodwaters in Otago.

Waikato

Storm set to roll in from Tasman

A brief respite from rain won't last long, with more forecast towards the end of the week.

Heavy rain and possible thunderstorms on horizon before cracker weekend.

Brother's final minutes

Anthony Hallmond died on Sunday night after what was believed to be an altercation on a Te Awamutu street.

Family arrived to find paramedics trying to revive Anthony Hallmond on a Te Awamutu street.

ACC U-turn on glasses

Hamilton man Glenn Hodges' eyesight was damaged following a crash at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park in December.

After an eight-month battle, motoring enthusiast Glenn Hodges has scored a win.

Outrage over skids on cemetery

Skid marks from vandals are all that remain at the Ngaruawahia Cemetery

The Ngaruawahia Cemetery has been targeted three times since June by drivers skidding on the grass.

Taranaki

Protecting Taranaki's historic bridge

A cyclist has absolutely no problems with the new width restrictions at the Bertrand Rd suspension bridge.

"It's not something that you need to race over anyway, just take your time."

Couple rescued 

The Taranaki Rescue Helicopter was able to get to the couple in time before the cloud came in. (File Photo)

If the helicopter hadn't reached the injured German couple, it would have meant an extra six hours stuck on Mt Taranaki.

Man attacked abuser

On Monday in the New Plymouth District Court, a man avoided convictions for burglary and assault, after a successful ...

After he was taken advantage of while drunk, a man sought retribution against his abuser.

Agency in liquidation

Liquidators were able to recover fees from a failed debt collection business.

High Court gives liquidator permission to recover fees but customers owed almost $200,000 will miss out.

Manawatu

America's Cup secret weapon

Palmerston North's secret weapon in the America's Cup racing Ryan Thomas.

Engineer Ryan Thomas was programming machinery for factories when he was discovered.

New gorge route likely

A third slip fell on the already-closed Manawatu Gorge road this weekend.

Rocky old road could remain closed as officials turn their attention elsewhere.

House prices spike

Feilding's Smeaton family sold their home in just eight days. From back left: David holding Evie, 1, and Hayley holding ...

House sales prices in Feilding are at a 20-year high but that hasn't stopped them selling fast.

When rural pests invade the city

A possum trapped.

UNDER THE RADAR: What to do if you live in suburbia and spot a stoat or possum.

Nelson

New plan to save grandstand

The fight goes on to save the grandstand.

It all looked done and dusted for Takaka's grandstand. But could it get a last gasp reprieve?

Shooting 'justified'

The shooting of Ford Hurinui, by police during an alleged armed standoff in Motueka in 2015 was justified, an inquest ...

Nelson police officer who shot a wanted man cleared of any wrongdoing after inquest.

Time to fix 'scary' highway

The section of State Highway 6 from Okaramio to Havelock is the most dangerous stretch on the Blenheim to Nelson road, ...

The Nelson-Blenheim road has claimed 12 lives in 10 years. NZTA says it's unacceptable.

Judge's blunder boosts jail time

A woman convicted in the Nelson District Court earlier this year on drugs charges has had her sentence quashed and ...

Woman convicted of meth dealing will spend longer behind bars after a sentencing error.

Marlborough

Burglar caught by paper trail

The diamond ring was pawned at a Cash Converters in 2010. (File photo)

Seven years after burglar pawns diamond ring, police realise he gave Cash Converters his real name.

Picture perfect

Marlborough photographer Jessica Jones won four awards at the annual Iris Awards for professional photographers.

Professional photographer Jessica Jones impresses judges in one of New Zealand's most prestigious competitions.

Guerrilla knitters yarn-bomb town

West End retailers Stephanie Thompson and Jacqui Harnett are behind Kaikoura's yarn-bombing project.

Many a good yarn has come out of quake-hit Kaikoura over the past few months, and that doesn't seem to be wrapping up anytime soon.

Teen denies knifepoint robbery

Dylan Joseph Dredge admitted seven charges at the Blenheim District Court. (File photo)

He wasn't trying to rob the woman, he was just attacking her with a knife, court hears.

South Canterbury

Keeping culture alive

Ti Kouka Kindergarten children sang some of the waiata they will perform at the festival in front of Beaconsfield School ...

Hundreds of children are gearing up for events designed to help keep Maori culture alive in South Canterbury.

Disease reaches NZ

Cows on a South Canterbury farm have been found infected with the disease Mycoplasma bovis, the first time it has been ...

A highly contagious cattle disease has infected a South Canterbury dairy herd in the first recorded case in NZ.

Insurers face expensive year

The Plains Irrigators business in Washdyke was flooded on Friday. Technician Theo Joubert looks at the mud.

Flooding expected to generate about 2000 claims nationwide, adding to expensive year for insurers after two cyclones and the "Tasman Tempest".

New burner rule pitched

The warm glow of a good log fire: a residents' group says the resource consent process could keep older burners burning ...

Retrofitting old burners should be made official, group says.

Southland

ILT prank 'disappointing'

The "GET LIT" T-shirts are advertised on the Bunker Bar Facebook page.

Young people using the Invercargill Licensing Trust's logo to promote drinking is being called "disappointing".

Pedestrian hit by car

Emergency services were called to the intersection of Don and Kelvin streets, Invercargill, after an elderly pedestrian ...

An elderly man was struck by a car in central Invercargill.

Early start for Barclay

What exactly Barclay has been doing in his electorate has been in the spotlight as he continues to sit on a $170,000 ...

Disgraced MP arrives back at work with smile on his face.

Factory worker awarded $30,000

20082014   
Image ID : 21188809
Image Type : Stock Photo
Copyright : Matthew Benoit
attorney, auction, authority, brown, ...

An Invercargill factory worker has successfully claimed over $30,000 from his former employers, after being unjustifiably dismissed.

Ad Feedback