Mayor's warning to 'scumbag' looters, rubberneckers

  • 16/02/2017

Christchurch's Mayor is warning potential looters of evacuated houses in the line of a fire burning in the Port Hills, saying they'll face the public's wrath if caught.

Around 1000 people have evacuated from around the Port Hills area as the fires continue to roar. There's major concern that it'll spread to the densely populated area of Westmoreland.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel says she hadn't been briefed on reports of looting of evacuated houses, she says there would be "scumbags" who could take advantage of the situation.

The fire is into its fourth day (Newshub)
The fire is into its fourth day (Newshub)

"The areas being evacuated are being door knocked by police and the Army, I think that's a reassurance to people, but you can never have a guarantee.

"There are scumbags in this world and they'll take advantage of whatever situation poses itself. If they're caught the obviously there's the public opprobrium that will be meted  upon them I would imagine," she told the AM Show on Thursday.

She said people needed to be respectful of those either forced to leave or voluntarily leaving their homes which are under threat from the blaze.

"There are people who are going to take stuff with them today not knowing whether they'll be able to get back to their home later on in the day." 

Around 30 to 40 people are being evacuated downhill of the Sign of the Takahe on Dyers Pass Rd as far as Kiteroa Place and Pentre Terrace.

The fire is getting perilously close to more homes (Newshub.)
The fire is getting perilously close to more homes (Newshub.)

She also had a warning for those looking to get a glimpse of the fires up close - don't do it.

"People want to see what's going on, but stay away from any area the emergency services want to have access to."

While she understood why people would want to see it, the fire's size is big enough to witness its destructive power from a safe distance.

The fires started on Monday and have kept emergency services under the pump almost around the clock.

An aerial view of smoke from the fire on Wednesday
An aerial view of smoke from the fire on Wednesday

Shifting conditions have kept firefighters on their toes and will continue to do so on Thursday as the 1800 hectare fire burns.

It has now spread to the harbour side of Sugarloaf.

So far seven houses have been destroyed, the focus of emergency services on saving lives rather than property.

A State of Emergency was put in place on Wednesday afternoon, but was criticised by Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee for being too late.

It is likely there will be some kind of review into the timing of the decision.

But Ms Dalziel says those are conversations for another day.

"These things have happened and there will be time to review them, but not today."

She will be meeting with Mr Brownlee on Thursday where she will discuss the State of Emergency.