New Zealand wildfires show no sign of easing, 3,000 flee

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New Zealand Defence Force firefighters combat the Richmond fire near Nelson, South Island, New Zealand, February 8, 2019. (REUTERS)
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In this image made from video, helicopters drop water on a wildfire coming over a ridge near a residential area, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019, in Wakefield, New Zealand. (AP)
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Smoke rises from the Richmond fire near Nelson, South Island, New Zealand, February 8, 2019. (REUTERS)
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New Zealand Defence Force firefighters combat the Richmond fire near Nelson, South Island, New Zealand, February 8, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 10 February 2019
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New Zealand wildfires show no sign of easing, 3,000 flee

  • Up to 3,000 people have been forced to leave the Wakefield and Pigeon Valley areas, NZ Civil Defense Controller Roger Ball told a Saturday news conference on Saturday

SYDNEY: Strong winds on Sunday are expected to fan forest fires that have been burning for a week through New Zealand’s South Island, forcing thousands of people from their homes, with more residents expected to flee, officials said.
The Pigeon Valley fire covers 2,300 ha (5,700 acres) with a 25 km (15 mile) perimeter, NZ Civil Defense said in a statement on its website.
No deaths have been reported and only one home destroyed.
“There is some concern about predicted high winds this afternoon, which are expected to test the control lines,” the agency said.
Early on Sunday, 155 firefighters were battling the blaze on the ground with air support from 23 helicopters and 3 fixed wing planes, the agency said, making it the largest aerial firefight on record in New Zealand.
Up to 3,000 people have been forced to leave the Wakefield and Pigeon Valley areas, NZ Civil Defense Controller Roger Ball told a Saturday news conference on Saturday.
More people were likely to be forced from their homes on Sunday.
New Zealand Red Cross Communications Manager Ellie van Baaren said evacuees were tired and frustrated.
“When you have to leave your home and in some cases your livestock and animals and you don’t know what’s become of them, and you’re staying with friends and family, then it’s an uncertain situation for everybody,” she told Reuters by telephone.
Much of the affected area south of Nelson was used for forestry but it also has many small farms. Some livestock has also been moved to safety.
Fires started on Monday and Tuesday and quickly spread. On Wednesday, authorities declared a state of emergency.
Hundreds of volunteer and professional firefighters, police, civil defense and military personnel are battling the fires.


Fire sweeps through Bangladesh slum, nine dead

Updated 45 min 5 sec ago
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Fire sweeps through Bangladesh slum, nine dead

  • Fires regularly break out in Bangladesh’s slums, where millions live in squalid living conditions

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh: A fire tore through a slum in southern Bangladesh on Sunday killing at least 9 people and destroying hundreds of shanty homes, police said.
The blaze broke out in the port city of Chittagong at about 3.30 A.M. and raced through the district of bamboo, tin and tarpaulin homes, said local police chief Pranab Chowdhury.
“At least 470 shanties were destroyed by the fire. So far 9 people have died. They included four members of a family,” fire brigade official Hefazatul Islam said.
Fires regularly break out in Bangladesh’s slums, where millions live in squalid living conditions.
Rights groups have in the past alleged some shanty town blazes were deliberate acts of sabotage by developers seeking to free up property to construct multi-story buildings.
“We have seen fires are used as a weapon to evict poor slum dwellers and squatters from government or private property,” rights activist Nur Khan Liton said.