The hills are burning

A couple of days ago, two scrub fires broke out in the Port Hills.  Since then, despite the best efforts of fire fighters (and the death of a helicopter pilot who had been one of many dumping water from monsoon buckets) the fires have continued to spread, and the cloud of smoke over the hills has got bigger and bigger.  People are being evacuated from the area (it’s mostly rural in the areas where the fires are, but there’s a few pockets of houses), and at least one house has been destroyed.
Two days ago, Lucy-Jane took this photo from our office window of the plume of smoke. This is the photo I took just a few minutes ago:

Some of that is because the winds have shifted and are blowing more of the smoke towards the city, but it’s still a huge increase in the amount of smoke!
We’re a long way from the hills on this side of town (probably 15 km or so from where the fires are), but last night I could faintly smell smoke in the air, and while I can’t really smell it today, I can feel it in my throat and eyes.  I’d hate to think how bad it is over in the suburbs closer to the hills.
There’s been a constant stream of helicopters and small planes going overhead today (we’re between the airport and the fires), and every so often we see the little specks of helicopters silhouetted against the cloud of smoke.  It must take a lot of bravery to continue flying into those conditions when you know one of your colleagues has already died doing the same thing.
Normally when our Australian friends comment about how they don’t know how we can cope with New Zealand’s earthquakes, our response is to say at least we don’t have big bushfires like they do.  Yeah, guess we can’t say that any more…

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  1. Wow… does that look familiar….
    It’s very disconcerting to have ‘clouds’ in the sky like those. It turns your brain inside out…. And that’s actually pretty darn close.

    1. Yeah, when I first saw the smoke on Monday night, I thought it was a storm cloud building up, but it was the wrong sort of weather.
      If I was out in the country with a fire that close, I’d be worried, but there’s a lot of city between the fires and me!

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