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MIL OSI – Source: Green Party – Press Release/Statement

Headline: Port Hills Fire reminds us to take care of each other

I have always been suspicious of smoke since the curtains and wall in my student flat caught fire. A sleeping bag had fallen onto a one-bar electric heater on a freezing Christchurch winter day. The speed with which the curtains ignited was frightening. Beating the fire out with a woollen blanket was an experience I don’t want to repeat.

Last night, I watched helicopters in the sky from a park in Christchurch. They looked tiny against the huge plumes of smoke coming from the Port Hills fire. I tried to imagine what it must be like actually flying into the smoke. Trees below were shooting flames skyward, the air was hot and full of smoke, and the wind was gusting. It made me very grateful that we have so many courageous and dedicated people working to protect the Port Hills.

The skill and commitment of all those working to contain fires is extraordinary. The Fire Service has 40 crews with 45 pumps and tankers, and more than 130 firefighters on the ground. There are 26 rural fire crews with more than 200 personnel. Fourteen helicopters are in the air, along with three fixed wing aircraft. Thank you for all you are doing and to the staff and Council volunteers in the emergency operations centres for the regular updates on the situation on the ground. And to media who have been so good at sharing these to keep people informed.

The uncertainty about whether the fire can be contained today may cause some residents beyond the hill suburbs to feel anxious and vulnerable. Across Christchurch, it’s a good day to look after yourself, be kind and reach out to others. Talking about and sharing experiences often helps. Take care everyone.