Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Lee Valley Fire - “Thanks to those men and women responsible for doing the hard work and for the community support”

Thumbs up and a smile from the Lee Valley fire incident controller, Steve Trigg, reassuring the community that the fire is contained and under control. 

Photo credit Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Lee Valley Fire: Unyielding Community Spirit in the Face of Adversity

The Lee Valley Fire, an unfolding crisis in the Tasman District, has tested the mettle of the community and the relentless efforts of firefighting teams. A chronological account of events reveals the challenges faced and the community's remarkable response.

On February 7, 2024, Fire and Emergency New Zealand responded urgently to a significant vegetation fire in Lee Valley. Three separate fire areas spread uphill into a pine plantation, requiring five helicopters and ground crews from nine brigades to contain the blaze. Urgent evacuations and road closures were implemented, setting the stage for a complex battle against the encroaching inferno.

On the same day, Incident Controller Steve Trigg faced a setback as all six helicopters were grounded due to a drone sighting. The safety risk prompted evacuations of eleven houses, and the civil defence centre opened at the Wanderers’ Clubrooms. Heavy machinery operators worked through the night to cut firebreaks, braving challenging terrain and adverse conditions to establish vital lines of defence.

Despite the challenges, firefighting efforts continued on February 8, with a relentless focus on establishing a 1.2 kilometre containment line. Volunteers inundated firefighters with an overwhelming wave of support, extending beyond words to tangible gestures like baking. Incident Controller Steve Trigg acknowledged the community's generosity and expressed gratitude, emphasising the symbiotic relationship between those fighting on the frontline and the unwavering support they received.

The completion of the containment line on February 9 marked a significant step forward. Evacuated residents were granted restricted access to their properties, allowing them to check on their homes and livestock. Plans for a community hub were unveiled, becoming a focal point for information dissemination and support. The fire, spanning about nine hectares, posed a formidable challenge, but favourable conditions supported the tireless firefighting efforts.

The Lee Valley Fire. Photo credit Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

By February 11, with the fire now contained and controlled, Incident Controller Steve Trigg announced a gradual scaling back of crews. Specialised drone crews proved invaluable in identifying and extinguishing hotspots, expediting progress and showcasing the integration of technology in firefighting strategies. The ongoing investigation ruled out suspicious causes for the fire, providing some clarity in the aftermath of uncertainty.

As Fire and Emergency concluded operations on February 12, forestry crews took over monitoring responsibilities. The investigation into the fire's cause continued, underlining the commitment to learning from this incident. While suspicions of foul play were ruled out, the community's resilience and support were acknowledged as vital components in overcoming this natural disaster. The community rallied behind the firefighters, inundating them with support, including baking. Incident Controller Steve Trigg expressed gratitude for this overwhelming wave of generosity.

Incident Controller Steve Trigg’s said “We'd like to thank everyone involved on the front line - as well as in the community - who worked together to get the fire under control and support the residents.”  

Amid a collective sigh of relief, Incident Controller Steve Trigg's words resonate – a reflection on the strength of community bonds and the collaborative efforts that brought the fire under control. The next chapter begins with continued monitoring, and a community forever bound by their triumph over adversity. The Lee Valley Fire stands not just as a chapter in the history of Tasman but as a tribute to the unyielding spirit of a community that faced the flames together and emerged stronger on the other side.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Looming changes forecast for Tasman District Council's 10 Year Plan

  Changes looming for Tasman District Council's 10 Year Plan   5 May, 2024 Tasman District Council’s Chief Financial Officer Mike Drum...