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Newsletter #8 and Media update 54 - Saturday 16 February

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Media Update 54 - 4pm 16 February 2019

Fire crews have been keeping a close watch on the fireground as high winds today cause flare-ups and more hotspots.

Civil Defence and emergency services this morning cancelled restricted access to the valleys and postponed conditional re-entry for residents in the Pigeon Valley Road area for today. This will be reviewed later today to see whether access can resume tomorrow.

“Things are still very changeable out there on the fireground,” says Civil Defence Group Controller Angus McKay. “We have made some important decisions around access today and have not taken these lightly. Our focus remains on people’s safety.

“We also ask the general public to stay away from any recently reopened valley roads and cordons over the weekend,” says Mr McKay

Wakefield remains open for business and visitors are very welcome.

All recently returned residents must remain prepared to evacuate at short notice. If evacuation orders are issued, notification will include text messaging, sirens and door knocking by Police and NZ Defence Force personnel.

Pigeon Valley Fire – the numbers (as at 4pm, 16 February)

  • Fire area 2,343 hectares

  • Fire perimeter 35.4km

  • Properties currently evacuated 98 (272 residents)

  • Around 150 firefighters and 50 support personnel on the ground fighting the fire.


Community Drop-in – Sunday 17 February, 1.30pm-3.30pm, Hope Community Church

  • There will be a community drop-in meeting at Hope Community Church on Sunday 17 February, from 1.30pm – 3.30pm.  

  • Residents affected by evacuation and access restrictions can speak to representatives from Civil Defence, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Police and MPI.


Be prepared to evacuate

The decision to allow residents home does not mean the fire is out, nor is it controlled. There is still an extreme fire risk for the whole region.

Be aware that if the evacuation order is given while you are away from home you may not be able to return to collect your possessions. For this reason you may want to keep some items in your vehicle.


Useful items to take include:

  • First aid kit and essential medicines

  • Essential items for infants or young children such as formula and food, nappies and a favourite toy

  • Any special needs such as hearing aids and spare batteries, glasses or mobility aids

  • Clothes for 3-5 days

  • Food

  • Toiletries

  • Blankets or sleeping bags

  • Pets and pet supplies

  • Torch and radio with spare batteries.


Include important documents in your getaway kit

  • Identification – birth and marriage certificates, driver’s licences and passports

  • Financial documents - e.g. insurance policies and mortgage information

Civil Defence Centre – Richmond New Life Church, 85 Wensley Road, Richmond

The Civil Defence Centre will be open from 10am-4pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Civil Defence and Red Cross staff will be available to provide advice and assistance to people affected by the Pigeon Valley fires.

Other agencies will return to the Civil Defence Centre from Monday 18 February.



Animal Welfare update from Ministry for Primary Industries

It is not possible for MPI to go into areas beyond the cordon for individual cases, unless there are extreme animal welfare situations and it’s safe for their staff to do so.

MPI says animals in the evacuated and restricted access areas were last fed yesterday (Friday) and will be fine for 2-3 days if necessary, as long as they have access to water.

Evacuated animals are still being cared for at the Richmond Park Showgrounds, where there is housing, food and water. Animals of any size can be brought directly to the Showgrounds to be looked after by the amazing team of volunteers.

Remember, make a plan for your animals so that if you need to evacuate again, you can settle them in first - don't leave animals in vehicles.

If you need any support regarding the welfare of your animals please call MPI on 0800 008 333, option 4.


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