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Fires contained but stay prepared

Lighter than forecast winds yesterday were “extremely helpful” in the fight to put out three large fires in Hastings yesterday.

This morning the Waimarama fire is contained but being closely monitored. Full crews remain on site, putting out hot spots. People living in the areas of the fires are being asked to remain prepared to self-evacuate if necessary, said Hastings District Council local emergency controller Craig Cameron.

The Civil Defence Emergency status remains in place until further notice, as wind shifts expected today which could potentially change the situation.

Residents may still see smoke from within the fire’s perimeter, however any flare ups are confined to within the 30m fire breaks the fire services have put in place.

All homeowners evacuated over the last few days were allowed to return home by last night. Welfare officers are working with the homeowners who lost their house to the fire. The welfare centre in Havelock North was closed last night with people needing help asked to contact (06) 871 5000.

Craggy Range Rd and Lopez Lane remain closed to all but residents and firefighters. That situation is likely to stay in place for three days.

The other two main fires, at Colin White Rd (Te Hauke) and Ripia Stream in the Puketitiri area, are aslo contained but being closely monitored; a helicopter with monsoon bucket is working with ground crew at Ripia Stream and ground crews are working at Colin White Rd.

Mr Cameron said “rubberneckers” remained a significant concern as they were getting in the way of firefighting vehicles, particularly around the Waimarama fire.

Hastings District Council is today reinforcing the message that there is a Total Fire Ban. “People are still flouting the fire ban - two small garden rubbish fires were extinguished yesterday.

“The devastation that fires have caused in our area over the last few days should be warning enough that risks cannot be taken. Council will consider prosecuting people who light fires during this time,” Mr Cameron said.

The fire ban means no outdoor fires of any description are allowed including hangi, solid fuel barbecues and fireworks.

4 October 2017

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