Tasman Fires: Blazes may remain active for months - Civil Defence

Despite a promising weather forecast, wild fires in Tasman may remain active for "several months", according to a top Civil Defence controller.

Civil Defence controller Jim Frater told The AM Show on Tuesday that, while strong gusty winds in the Nelson-Tasman district weren't stirring up wild fires as they had been for the last few days, residents shouldn't get complacent.

"We got a wee shower of rain here just before, but I wouldn't pay attention to that, I think we got about a millimetre - the fire is still very active," said Mr Frater.

While current conditions would provide firefighters some relief, Mr Frater said the fight against the blaze may not be over any time soon.

"Provided conditions stay as they are for the next few days, the FENZ (Fire and Emergency New Zealand) guys will make a lot of progress," he said.

"However, having said that, it could be several months before the fire is in a position where they can walk away from it."

FENZ regional manager John Sutton said on Monday that firefighters would be working on the blaze "well into March", and while Mr Frater said he couldn't put a date on when the fires would be extinguished, he noted that "hot pockets" can remain for a long time.

Wakefield residents began returning home on Monday, but those from the Eves, Teapot, Pigeon and Redwood Valleys are still waiting for the go-ahead from authorities.

Mr Frater said while FENZ and police worked all day yesterday and overnight to coordinate a plan to allow the residents to go home, it was a complex operation.

"We're hoping to have a plan later on today that will allow re-entry at some stage, hopefully this week."

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.


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