Tasman fire: Valley residents could be days away from returning home

While Wakefield residents have been allowed to return to their homes, it may be days until property owners from the nearby valleys affected by intense wild fires can do the same.

On Monday, Civil Defence Nelson Tasman controller Roger Ball announced Wakefield residents could return to their properties days after being evacuated due to the threat of wild fires in the area.

But residents from the nearby Eves, Teapot, Pigeon, and Redwood Valleys have been left out of luck, with Mr Ball saying there was still a risk to their properties.

"The four valleys are a more complex risk scenario and will require a more detailed pre-assessment for safety," Mr Ball says.

Group controller from Nelson Tasman Civil Defence, Murray Sinclair, told Newshub that while strong winds are not forecast for Tuesday, the entire district was still at risk and Civil Defence has to be careful in their approach to letting residents go home.

"We are looking still to plan for re-entry for those Valleys that are not back yet, but that might not be tomorrow, it is going to be based on the risk assessment for those areas and the ability, should there be a need to re-evacuate those areas, to have sufficient resources," he said.

Mr Sinclair said despite having no idea when they will be able to return permanently, residents from the valleys will be given restricted access to their properties.

"There will be an opportunity again for them to get back in for a couple of hours to look at their properties and tend to their livestock."

The number of helicopters on standby will be reduced to ten "given the state of the fire isn't what it was two or three days ago," said Mr Sinclair.

In the meantime, Civil Defence is warning against the use of outdoor machinery in the Nelson region.

"Outdoor activities that can generate sparks or fire are also prohibited, and include gas cutting, welding, angle grinding, and all use of chainsaws and scrub/bar cutters," said Civil Defence Controller Rob Smith.

Residents returning to their home in Wakefield are being asked to be prepared in case they have to evacuate again.

"Do not become complacent just because you can't see flames," Acting Tasman Area Commander Inspector Zane Hooper said.

If residents hear continuous sirens go off, it means they must evacuate again and emergency services and Defence Force personnel will start the evacuation process.

There is a reduced speed limit in Wakefield during the re-entry. 70km/h zones are reduced to 50km/h, and 50km/h zones are reduced to 30km/h until 7am on Tuesday.

The Civil Defence declaration of emergency will be reviewed on Tuesday.