Scion responds to Port Hills fires

26 February 2024

Scion’s Fire and Atmospheric research scientists were mobilised in response to the Port Hills fire in Ōtautahi Christchurch in February 2024.

Wildfire researchers Hugh Wallace, Shana Gross and Veronica Clifford took fuel samples to inform their modelling work and were on standby to support Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) with fire growth and smoke modelling.  

Senior Technician and experienced firefighter Jamie Kunzli also worked closely with FENZ as an airbase manager, supervised 17 aircraft and undertook aerial mapping work.

Scientist and firefighter Richard Parker also responded to the blaze.

The work of Scion’s wildfire researchers aims to develop the science and technology needed to protect life and property and manage fire in the landscape. Gathering data and information from active wildfires can not only help predict the spread of the fire in real time, but also give insight into wildfire behaviour and modelling for the future.

Scion learns from rural fires and our controlled research burns to better predict and prevent wildfires.

One of the tools in Scion’s kete is a prototype for smoke forecast modelling. The modelling identifies locations where smoke and fine particulate concentrations are predicted to drift. It is available to the public and can be used to inform guidance from health authorities.

Media coverage

While focussed on their research work Hugh and Shana have also been fielding numerous calls from media, including RNZ, Stuff, The Press and Newstalk ZB.  

Stuff -

NZ Herald -

RNZ’s Morning Report -

RNZ Nights -

Science Media Centre (Expert Reaction) -