Lewis Pass Fires Contained

The scrub fires that broke out north of Hanmer Springs earlier today are now 100% contained and 60% controlled.

Hurunui District Council Mayor, Winton Dalley has been a part of the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) that has been monitoring the event since being advised at lunchtime today.

Mayor Dalley said that he has been assured that all available resources have been thrown at the fires and that everything that could be done was being done.

As at 6.30pm, twelve helicopters, 14 ground crews, two bulldozers and a digger are involved in battling the eight fires. There is no immediate threat to life and the response priorities are fire control and protection of State Highway 7.

A power pole on Lewis Pass Road was burnt in the event and 50 customers will remain without power overnight until it is safe for crews to enter the area to carry out repairs.

During the 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. This evening the road to Hanmer Springs from the south has reopened to all traffic.

A large number of stock trucks that had been backed up at Springs Junction, were escorted through the pass earlier this evening due to stock welfare concerns. The Lewis Pass Road (SH7) from the Hanmer Springs turnoff (SH7A)to Springs Junction still remains closed to the general public, however it is anticipated that it will reopen to the public later this evening with speed restrictions in place.

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

Mayor 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.