Christchurch grass fire under control, wild animal park lucky
2 February 2003
Canterbury firefighters had a large grassfire west of the city
under control by about 7pm today and say a late afternoon wind change
made the difference in their battle.
Christchurchs Principal Rural Fire Office Keith Marshall
says voluntary and professional firefighters from the city and surrounding
areas did a great job stopping the fire from crossing McLeans Island
Road, west of Christchurch International Airport.
Its been a big effort by a lot of people, he
says. If it had crossed that road it wouldve gone all
the way to the Waimakariri River bed and were all very relieved
that we managed to keep it out of Orana Park because, make no mistake,
it was under very real threat at one stage.
Mr Marshall says nobody was hurt, but Orana Park patrons and shooters
at a nearby gun club had to be evacuated. The fire has destroyed
several hectares of plantation forest and a large area of dry pasture
land. The gun clubrooms were not burned although the fire passed
it. It also passed through land used by paintball and Ultimate Game
The fire began in the early afternoon near where Miners Road meets
West Coast Road, about 3km west of the airport. It ran north west
and at times its front was at least 1000m across, Mr Marshall estimates.
Getting firefighting resources to it was complicated because many
were already involved with a grass fire at Mary Duncan Park near
Heathcote which started around midday.
It wasnt until about 5.15pm when the wind swung around
to the east, Mr Marshall says. That probably saved our
bacon. Ive no idea how either fire started. I havent
had time to think about that yet.
A regional incident management team, based at the airport, was
last night preparing rosters for fire crews which would work from
8.30pm until 7am tomorrow (Monday) when they would be relieved by
Involved in todays operation were at least eight NZ Fire
Service machines from the city; volunteer brigades and rural fire
forces from the city, West Melton, Rolleston, Brooklands, Woodend
and Lincoln; equipment and staff from the airport and the army base
at Burnham. Helping coordinate the effort were staff from the City
Council; the Department of Conservation; from the Waimakariri, Hurunui
and Canterbury Regional councils; and from the South Canterbury
Rural Fire District.
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