The fire season in New Zealand usually spans from late December to early March, coinciding with the hottest temperatures and often drought-like conditions across much of the country. The Canterbury region, known for its dry, windy weather during this period, frequently experiences vegetation fires. These fires can pose significant risks to nearby towns and settlements if they escalate.

During the 2024 fire season, the Christchurch & Rangiora Rapid Relief Teams were actively engaged, assisting the Fire & Emergency Services at six major vegetation fires.

On Friday, January 19th, a devastating fire swept across 12 hectares in Loburn, North Canterbury, destroying vegetation, sheds, and three homes. Firefighters labored tirelessly through the night to contain the blaze. The following morning, the RRT Rangiora team set up a breakfast camp, serving 60 meals to rejuvenate the exhausted crews.

As the hot, windy conditions persisted, the RRT Christchurch team sprang into action on January 20th to assist fire crews battling another large fire in Amberley. Nine RRT volunteers prepared and delivered 60 meals to support the firefighters.

"Always so happy to see you guys. Honestly, your meals make the effort we put in easier with a decent feed in our bellies"


Port Hills Fire

As temperatures soared to 32 degrees and winds intensified, another fire erupted on the following day in Swannanoa, a small village northwest of Christchurch. Ten volunteers from the Rangiora RRT provided meals for 40 firefighters working to control the 12-hectare blaze.

On the evening of February 4th, Fire & Emergency Services tackled a significant vegetation fire near Kirwee in Canterbury’s Selwyn district. The fire spread across 80 hectares of pine forest, scrub, and farmland. By the next morning, seven helicopters and eight fresh firefighter crews were deployed. The Christchurch RRT team arrived early to serve a hot breakfast, followed by lunch at noon. The RRT returned the next morning to offer breakfast after another challenging night for the firefighters. Over two days, the Christchurch RRT’s 40 volunteers served 360 meals and distributed 240 water bottles to support the ongoing firefighting efforts.

On February 14th, a significant vegetation fire ignited on the Port Hills in Christchurch, burning uncontrollably for several days. The blaze consumed over 700 hectares and led to the evacuation of 110 properties. At the peak of the firefight on February 16th, 100 firefighters, 15 helicopters, two fixed-wing aircraft, and 28 fire engines were deployed to battle the flames. The Christchurch and Rangiora RRT teams provided sustained support to the Fire & Emergency Crews, NZ Police, and helicopter pilots, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner over several days. In total, 1,400 meals and 1,020 water bottles were distributed by 48 RRT volunteers.

Late on the night of February 18th, another large vegetation fire erupted in Waikari Valley, near Waipara. Fifteen fire crews and a bulldozer were challenged by the difficult terrain as they worked through the night. The Rangiora RRT provided breakfast and lunch the following morning. The fire, which eventually scorched 330 hectares, required extensive efforts from Fire & Emergency crews who continued their work through Monday night, as many local residents were evacuated. By Tuesday morning, RRT was back on site to provide breakfast, followed by lunch and dinner as the fire came under control. A total of 365 meals and 240 water bottles were served by 22 Rangiora RRT volunteers during this incident.

It was an intense but fulfilling fire season for the Christchurch and Rangiora RRT teams, highlighting the remarkable collaboration among firefighters as they safeguarded communities and property. Throughout this year’s fire season in Canterbury, the RRT delivered 2,285 meals and distributed 1,620 water bottles, thanks to the dedicated efforts of 159 RRT volunteers from Christchurch and Rangiora.

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