Pigeon Valley Fire Update 31
Planning underway to allow Wakefield residents to return home
A combination of benign weather conditions and outstanding fire management has seen the risk posed by the Pigeon Valley fire significantly reduced for some areas.
In light of an assessment undertaken overnight, Civil Defence and partner agencies are actively working to allow Wakefield people back into their homes, Incident Controller Roger Ball said.
“This decision does not mean the fire is out. Nor is it controlled. Firefighters will continue to be in the field for weeks, if not months, and there is still an extreme fire risk for the whole region.”
However, Mr Ball said the risk for Wakefield had been assessed after a productive day and night and favourable weather with higher humidity which has helped the firefighters as they work to contain the blaze. They have made significant progress to reduce the risk from the fire, including the construction of primary and secondary fire breaks.
The areas of Eves Valley, Teapot Valley, Redwood Valley and Pigeon Valley are also being actively assessed.
The programme of determining restricted access to those valleys continues this morning and public meetings for residents will go ahead as planned for 5.30pm (Appleby School) and 7.30pm (Hope Church).
Mr Ball thanked residents for their patience and acknowledged the multiple agencies working on the response.
“We believe the best place for people in this situation is in their own home so that is what we are working towards.
“The fire is not contained yet and the situation could change very quickly - that is why if re-entry occurs it will be conditional. We are still assessing the risk to the valleys. The total fire ban and the machinery ban continues.”
“If a decision is made to allow people to go back into Wakefield, it would be subject to conditions. We expect all houses to have their ‘go-bags’ by the front door for the future. All residents must be ready to evacuate should the situation change.”
Mr Ball said Fire and Emergency and the New Zealand Police were working through plans to facilitate this access if given the go-ahead.
“Residents can choose not to go home, however, it’s good to give people the option. Likewise, livestock can stay at the showgrounds for the time being.”