North Canterbury Fires: Residents lose homes and businesses, roads closures, welfare meeting planned

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Jan 19, 2024 |

Photo: Lisa Hindson

Residents in North Canterbury are facing the overwhelming challenge of waking up to find themselves without homes or businesses.

Multiple vegetation fires broke out along Loburn Whiterock Road on Friday afternoon, covering an area of approximately 10 hectares in size.

Many buildings were destroyed, including a church that had been converted into a house, two houses, and several outbuildings including sheds and a business, and multiple vehicles including farm machinery.

Fire and Emergency staff will carry out a detailed assessment of damage to properties on Saturday.

Overnight approximately 17 firefighters at Loburn monitored and dampened down hotspots in the ten- hectare area along Loburn Whiterock Road where a number of grass and vegetation fires broke out yesterday afternoon.

Photo: Lisa Hindson

The roads around the Loburn fires remain closed while around 30 fresh firefighters and six staff, supported by heavy machinery, work to fully extinguish the fires in the area.

They will be supported by aircraft if needed. Windier conditions are expected later today

Fire and Emergency and Council Welfare staff at the Baptist Church are arranging a meeting for Loburn fire evacuees and other affected residents at the Council Chambers (215 High St, Rangiora) at 11am on Saturday.

The fire at Amberley is contained and controlled. Overnight around 17 firefighters worked to monitor and dampen down hotspots.

Today 6 crews supported by heavy machinery are continuing the work on hotspots and flareups. One helicopter is on standby.

It is expected it will take several days to fully extinguish the fire at Amberley.

Residents who were evacuated from the area near the fire ground have been allowed back home.

Cordons remain in place and people are asked to stay well away from the area to let our crews focus on their work.

Canterbury residents are reminded to take extreme care with all activities that could cause a spark that will set vegetation on fire, with winds forecast to get stronger and hotter temperatures today. All fire permits have been suspended until 8am on Monday.

Fire and Emergency’s Regional Coordination Centre in Christchurch has been activated to support the multiple incidents, including on the West Coast where brigades are ready to assist with flooding.

Loburn resident Lisa Hindson lives on the corner where the fire started.

“My partner phoned the fire brigade. Homes and a business have been lost along with a beautiful converted church. Many residents have been evacuated.”

She said many residents were without power and water.

She said Fire and Emergency had set up a headquarters at Loburn Reserve.

Photo: Fire and Emergency Canterbury Facebook Page

FENZ posted a photo on Facebook showing a dozer driver clearing dangerous trees from the Amberley fireground yesterday.

“We ask everyone in Canterbury to be extra careful not to do anything outside that could spark another fire.

High risk activities include:

• Using equipment that generate sparks, or where blades can strike a stone and cause a spark (eg welders, grinders, mowers, chainsaws).

Delay this activity until early morning or evening, or wait for cooler weather” the spokesperson said on Facebook.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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