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Fighting the Port Hill Fires

27 February 2017

Fighting the Port Hill Fires

by Sel Lo Tam

The Port Hill Fires ravaged the Christchurch area from Monday 13th February till they were contained to one large area on the evening of Wednesday 15th.

The fire service utilised helicopters as well as ground men to fight the relentless flames. Our very own VHNZ trainer Sel Lo Tam, was called up to assist as a volunteer firefighter and had the following to say about the experience:

"I'll never forget facing a beast of a Fire two storeys high, with every surrounding station as far as Ashburton being called in. This picture was taken (our mascot & I) after we were ordered to evacuate the Spur. Angry having being ordered to drop hoses & withdraw down the hill, until some gutsy Commander said enough was enough. Calling all Breathing Apparatus (BA) wearers, donning Level 2s & BA we advanced back up the Spur. East & West side of Spur was re-taken. In my immediate sector we lost one house, but we saved four. I note the relieving teams who went back up the Spur on Saturday (damping down of hotspots) were approached by 2 kids with homemade cookies individually packaged each with a note & their names. It read "Thank You' for saving our home". I think one of the guys choked a tear or two. The absolute tragedy in all this is not only property we couldn't save, we lost a fellow Firefighter, David 'Steve' Askin."