Chance of more residents affected by the Tasman fire returning home today

Source: 1News

Residents in the Valley's affected by the Tasman fire may get the chance to return home later today.

Today, authorities are looking at conditional entry for evacuees from Pigeon Valley, Eves Valley and Redwood Valley, similar to what was carried out for Wakefield residents yesterday.

But the difference is Wakefield was under the threat of fire whereas for the Valleys - the fire is real, Civil Defence controller Jim Frater said today. Currently people in those areas are only allowed in for short term access.

"Currently we are working with the emergency services to assess risk, and we're hoping that later today that we'll have a much clearer picture on that," Mr Frator said. "It would be nice to say that we'll have some good news but at this stage it is too early to do that."

Later today, there will also be discussions about whether to extend the State of Emergency which expires tomorrow, as well as the ban on outdoor activities which could be a fire risk.

"Just because you can’t see the fire, doesn’t mean it’s not real," Mr Frator said.

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"This event has been unprecedented in this region. We've had fires before, but not to this extent and not those that have affected residents such as we have," he said.

"We're aware that what started this was a spark, and it's covering a massive amount of area and affected the lives of thousands of people."

A recovery process would be worked through this week, but at the moment accommodation was "very, very stretched" in the region, Mr Frator said.

Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne said as the recovery kicks in, there will be a huge amount of work to do both in the forest and at people's properties.

Fire and Emergency NZ fire controller Trevor Mitchell said, "It's going to be a long-haul for our people and a long-haul for the communities."

It was a quiet night for crew with good progress, but the fire was still serious, he said.

Drones flying overnight again picked up "dozens and dozens" of hot-spots which firefighters are digging them out and dampening down.

They also flew an infrared camera over Walters Bluff in Nelson where a fire broke out last week and found another eight hot-spots, which showed how changeable the situation can be, Mr Mitchell said.

Helicopters will be dropping back today as the Tasman fire has changed from open flames to underground, and ground crew were more effective at tackling that job, he said. There will be 190 firefighters working today. 

The weather forecast is changeable, but winds are not expected to be strong. 

"It looks like another good day on the hill for our folk," Mr Mitchell said.

Ministry of Primary Industries regional controller Charlotte Austin said the re-entry into Wakefield last night was "fantastic" with 20 animals heading home with their owners. However, she encouraged people with stock animals to keep them at the shelter.