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Pigeon Valley Fire Update 51: Calm night aids firefighting effort

Watch: Fire and Emergency insight into Pigeon Valley fire behaviour

It was a quiet night last night with little or no wind on the fire ground. This allowed firefighters to contain small flare-ups overnight very quickly.

Nelson-Tasman Civil Defence Group Controller Roger Ball says that while the fire remains active it has been significantly reduced.

“While contained, this does not mean that the fire is under control so it is important people remain vigilant and constantly aware of the risk. An increase in wind speed and a shift in direction could result in the fire becoming challenging very quickly,” he says.

The 59 firefighters on the ground overnight focused on dealing with hotspots identified by three drone crews.  The emphasis was on the hot spots close to the southern and north-western perimeter of the fire.

Trees affected by the fire that have a risk of self-felling continue to be a concern and specialist assessors are on the ground to address this issue. This work will continue throughout the day with 130 firefighters, 9 helicopters and 16 dangerous tree assessors at the fire site.

Conditional access

At 8am today the residents of around 40 additional properties in the fire affected valleys were allowed to return home on a conditional basis. However, it is vitally important that all returning residents remain prepared to evacuate at short notice if required.

We are working hard to get residents of the remaining 99 evacuated properties back into their homes as soon as it is considered safe to do so.

Residents must remain ready to evacuate at short notice if the situation changes. This includes having essential items packed and ready to go.

We recommend people also discuss evacuation plans with their families and neighbours, especially those that might need help.

We also ask the public to stay away from all of the recently reopened valley roads over the weekend – re-entry is for residents only. However Wakefield is open for business and visitors are very welcome.

We’re watching the weather very carefully

Civil Defence teams and Fire and Emergency New Zealand are monitoring a comprehensive set of weather resources to inform management of the fire response.

Information comes from three weather stations, teams of field observers on the fire ground, NIWA and independent meteorologists to help inform the approach, explains Fire and Emergency New Zealand Incident Controller Trevor Mitchell.

As the temperature rises during the day, and any changes in wind direction or intensity, increase the potential for flare-ups or changes to the fire area. Keeping a close eye on the weather means fire crews can be in the right places to respond.

Poleford Bridge closed – resident access only

The gate at Poleford Bridge is closed to the general public due to fire risk. This closure comes on the advice of Fire and Emergency NZ and is authorised by the Civil Defence Controller, under the Declaration of Local Emergency.

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