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21 Feb 2018 14:08
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  •   Home > News > Accident and Emergency

    Dunedin fire evacuees return home

    Residents from 100 Dunedin houses evacuated because of fire are returning home on Thursday morning. The city is now preparing for flooding.

    Residents from 100 Dunedin houses evacuated over fears a raging fire could spread from a nearby industrial area are returning home, just as the city prepares for possible flooding.

    The residents were given the green light to return home during a community meeting on Thursday morning after heavy rain helped firefighters contain the fire, incident controller Phil Marsh says.

    At the height of the blaze on Wednesday, six helicopters, 25 crews and about 100 personnel had fought the fire in the suburb of Burnside.

    Dozens of firefighters then used excavators overnight to create a firebreak on the western flank of the fire as crews patrolled the nearby residential area to put out hotspots and prevent any flare ups.

    Their efforts were aided enormously when about 8mm of rain fell on Dunedin from midnight, Mr Marsh said.

    Specialist crews will now work on Thursday morning to ensure there are no flare ups, with mop up operations expected to continue on for several days.

    While fire crews felt sorry for those who lost industrial buildings, Mr Marsh said the damage cold have been "so much worse".

    "The majority of residents were very happy with the response that we've given, it's been extreme weather conditions and we've been working really, really hard," he said.

    The nearby Concord School, which has a roll of about 70 students, will now open for classes on Thursday.

    Two fire investigators will begin work determining the fire's cause.

    And while overnight rain helped dampen the fire, it could now prove a "double-edged sword".

    "We're expecting over 50mm of rainfall in Dunedin today, so we are probably planning for flooding in the area," Mr Marsh said.

    "We're going one extreme to another."

    © 2018 NZN, NZCity

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