Tasman fires: Return home called off after wind gusts

Fourteen households forced out by Tasman's fires that expected to return home on Saturday morning will instead have to wait.

The remaining evacuated residents from the Pigeon Valley Rd area hoped to be back in at 8am, but wind gusts over 80km/h mean it's still too dangerous.

"We have been watching weather and wind conditions closely overnight and, together with Fire and Emergency New Zealand, have made the call to suspend restricted access today," said Civil Defence group controller Angus McKay.

"This also means that planned conditional re-entry for the remaining Pigeon Valley Rd residents, (including Sharp Rd) has been cancelled today. The risk of significant flare-ups and our ability to evacuate people at short notice has been the primary consideration behind making this decision."

A Civil Defence spokesperson said more households waiting to go home will also have to wait a few more days. People who still haven't been allowed home are being told to plan to stay away until at least Wednesday - perhaps longer.

Extreme fire risks
 

The Department of Conservation is urging people going bush this weekend to be careful. It's closed some of its tracks at the top of the South Island, and is monitoring others, as the region grapples with extreme fire risks.

Spokesperson Roy Groce says gas cookers are still okay.

"They need to be very careful about any overhanging vegetation or vegetation on the ground. But there's absolutely no fires permitted."

Some of the tracks being temporarily closed include the Abel Tasman inland track.

Mr Groce says the decision wasn't made lightly.

"What we're really concerned about is, what if a fire starts at the base of a hill, and what are the options for the public that might be on that track? Are there any escape routes?"

He says anyone who sees smoke on a track should call 111.

The closures are only temporary.

"As soon as we get enough rain and our weather conditions improve, we'll be looking at opening them up again."

Closures

  • Temporary track closures Temporary campsite closures
  • Gibbs Hill Track Tinline Great Walk Campsite
  • Falls River Track Anapai Great Walk Campsite
  • Abel Tasman Inland Track Mutton Cove Great Walk Campsite
  • Taupo Point and access track
  • Moa Park
  • Temporary hut/shelter closures
  • Castle Rock Hut
  • Awapoto Hut
  • Wainui Hut including access through Wainui Saddle and Birds Clearing
  • Holyoakes Shelter

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