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Lee Valley Fire: Crews Work Overnight to Protect Structures and Create Fire Breaks

Thursday 8 February 2024, 7:29AM

By Fire and Emergency New Zealand

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The Lee Valley fire burning in steep terrain, seen from the air during a reconnaissance flight this evening.
The Lee Valley fire burning in steep terrain, seen from the air during a reconnaissance flight this evening. Credit: Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Four crews of firefighters and two heavy machinery operators worked through the night at the Lee Valley fire. Fire and Emergency Incident Controller Steve Trigg says two urban crews were tasked with protecting structures while the two rural crews and the excavator operators were making fire breaks and control lines.

The fire is not yet controlled or contained, but there has been no reported damage to property overnight, aside from the forest itself.

Seven helicopters will be back in the air this morning to resume the aerial attack, while the excavators would continue making firebreaks.

Specialist forestry silviculture / firefighting crews would be on the ground, using thermal imaging equipment to identify hotspots and tackling each one with hand tools and hoses. The command unit is also on site and continuously staffed.

All roadblocks remain in place and people are asked to stay away so emergency services are not delayed in moving in and out of the area.

Steve Trigg has also stressed that private drones must not be flown anywhere near the Lee Valley, to avoid helicopters having to be grounded to avoid the risk of a mid-air collision.

Nelson-Tasman Civil Defence advises that the civil defence centre at the Wanderers’ Clubrooms on Lord Rutherford Drive will reopen at 8am.