Hanmer Springs fires contained, roads open

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By Robyn Bristow

The scrub fires that broke out north of Hanmer Springs on Wednesday are now contained.

Hot spots are being dampened down today.

Hurunui Mayor Winton Dalley who was a part of the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) says that he has been assured that all available resources were thrown at the fires and that everything that could be done was done.

Twelve helicopters, 14 ground crews, two bulldozers and a digger battled the eight fires which broke out shortly after mid day Wednesday. There was no immediate threat to life and the response priorities were fire control and protection of State Highway 7.

A power pole on Lewis Pass Road was burnt in the event and 50 customers remained without power overnight. until repairs could be made safely.

During Wednesday afternoon the road between Springs Junction and Culverden was closed due to smoke and risk of rockfall, stranding motorists on both sides of the pass, until it was reopened about 8pm. The road to Hanmer Springs from the south is also open to all traffic.

A large number of stock trucks that had been backed up at Springs Junction, were escorted through the pass early Wednesday evening due to stock welfare concerns.

A welfare centre was opened in Culverden to provide a safe haven for Hanmer Springs residents that had been stranded but this has since closed with the reopening of the road.

Mr Dalley would like to express his gratitude to all of the amazing crews and individuals that have been involved in the response to date.

“We know we are not out of the woods yet, but with all of the hard work that has gone in I am confident that we are through the worst of it and have avoided a potentially catastrophic event.”

The Hurunui District Council EOC will continue to monitor the situation and will update its Facebook page and website with any new information to hand.

Transport Agency Journey Manager Lee Wright thanks everyone for being patient if you were stuck in the queue.

“Please expect this trip through the burnt area to be fairly smoky still and to take it carefully, with windows wound up,” she says.