Drone incidents hinder Port Hills firefighting effort

In the past 24 hours, two separate drone incidents have hindered the Port Hills firefighting effort. 

Helicopters were grounded for at least 45 minutes on Sunday morning, when a private drone was caught flying near the Christchurch suburb of Westmorland. 

Those responsible are yet to be caught, but Police are investigating. 

"They've got to come down - go through their landing and shut down procedures. It just all adds up, especially when we're using them as one of our main resources," Fire and Emergency's incident controller Steve Kennedy shared. 

"There are fines, there are prosecutions which can be taken. If located, we would be seeking that to happen. It is seriously affecting firefighting capabilities and putting people at risk," Canterbury Police Inspector Ash Tabb added. 

Meanwhile, more than 80 firefighters remain on the fire ground, which is 25 kilometres in perimeter. 

Thermal imaging drones will continue to be used overnight, which are helping to locate hotspots. 

"We've identified 60 areas we need to be working on. Thirty-five of those are on the perimeter of the fire," Kennedy said. 

Crews continue to work on a 50-metre edge, around the perimeter of the affected Port Hills areas.  

Alongside career firefighters, are volunteers. Many of them have been working five days straight, doing gruelling 12-hour shifts.  

They're also spending time away from their day jobs, and families. 

"It's not rewarding putting fires out and seeing the devastation but being able to make a difference is where it's all about for us," Spencerville Volunteer Brigade deputy chief Ruchelle De Gouw told Newshub. 

"I've been a volunteer for 49 years - I work for Sutton Tools in Kaiapoi and they're very supportive of me coming to do this whenever I need to," brigade chief John Reed said.

Forecast strong winds have the potential to create problems this week, with norwesterlies and high temperatures on the way. 

MetService has an orange warning in place for parts of the region.  

The cause of the Port Hills blaze is still unclear - an investigation continues.