Vince and I arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand on February 13th. The first thing we did after checking in to our Airbnb, was take a hike at a nearby wetland. In the distance, we could see the port hills outside of the city. As we walked around the wetland, the hills went out of site, and we didn’t glimpse them again until we were almost back to the car park. We were surprised to see that since we started our hike, a large plume of smoke had formed in the otherwise clear, blue sky.
The next morning, we heard the news that two fires had started in the port hills the previous day, and helicopters had been sent in to try to douse the flames with monsoon buckets. We still didn’t have a very good idea of how serious the fire had actually become until we were driving out of Christchurch on our way to Akaroa. The smoke was visible for miles, and we drove down one stretch of highway where many drivers had stopped their vehicles to look at the looming pillar of smoke in the distance. The helicopters were visible form the road, and seemed so small in comparison to the blazing fire.
That evening we heard that one of the helicopter pilots had tragically lost his life in a crash as he was helping to combat the blaze. Over the next week, hundreds of residents were evacuated from their homes, and the fire destroyed or damaged 11 homes and burned through over 2,000 hectares of land. Residents were finally allowed to return to their homes over a week after the fire started, but the port hills are a long ways off from recovering from this devastating event. Some families have lost everything, and it could take years for the ecosystem to recover.
There are many pages at https://givealittle.co.nz/landingpages/christchurchfire that are raising funds to support various problems caused by the fire. Some support specific families whose homes were destroyed. There is one that is supporting the firefighters, who were volunteers taking time off of work to contain the fire. There are also pages for the family of Steve Askin, the helicopter pilot who lost his life. If you have the resources, please consider donating to one of these causes, or pointing your friends in the direction of the give a little pages. Thanks for reading/sharing/donating/caring to anyone out there who sees this. Any little bit can help to impact a lot of lives that were suddenly turned upside down.