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Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Christchurch fires: Frustrated Port Hills residents don't know if their homes are still standing

Frustrated homeowners still don't know whether their Port Hills homes are standing or have been ravaged by fire.

Cordons blocking residents from going back to the worst-hit areas are likely to remain in place all day as fire crews and helicopters continue to dampen down hot spots.

About 1000 residents have been evacuated and 11 homes have been confirmed lost in the fires, which have been burning since Monday night.

Jack and Ilona Pawlowski were stopped at a cordon at the base of Worsleys Spur today within a few hundred metres of their home they call "paradise".

The Pawlowskis showed a photo of their property to a police officer at the scene and pleaded for them to check with officers up the hill to check on their home.

They simply want to know if it's been taken by the fire or not.

"We just want someone to tell us if our house remains or not," Jack Pawlowski said.

The 62-year old is critical of what he perceives a lack of information.

"There's around 25 homes up there. The authorities know all of the names of the people there, they should be telling us just the state of our properties."

The Pawlowskis were evacuated on Wednesday afternoon after the sudden wind shift to the northeast swung the fire in their direction.

They soon saw 30m fireballs as pine trees went up in flames.

"It was scary," Jack Pawlowski said.

Video

Another resident spoken to by the Herald who believes her home is a ruin, was too upset to comment, but was also angry at the lack of information.

There is also frustration at the Westmorland cordon, where hundreds were evacuated on Wednesday.

The fire threatened the large hillside suburb but it appears to have not reached any properties.

Now residents want to know why they can't go back home when they feel the danger has passed.

Some people who left Westmorland of their own accord and have not been evacuated are now being told they cannot return either.

"It's a joke," one angry resident said.

"I understand the need for safety, but this area is fine. We need to get home."

Video

Residents Paddy and Andrea Matthews finally got to rescue their cats and a chicken from their Tisbury Lane property, off Worsleys Rd this morning.

A police officer gave them a ride to their property where they were shocked to see that the fire had scorched its way to their boundary line.

A hose manned by firefighters appears to have saved their place, they say.

"We're really relieved to get up there this morning," Andrea Matthews said.

"We had visions that our animals had gone far and wide."

Officials say the Worsleys Rd cordon will be reassessed at 2pm.

- NZ Herald

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