A large forest fire has been burning through pines and scrub on Old West Coast Rd in Kirwee, near the Waimakariri River. Photo / Cam Avery
Fire crews are battling a large fire that’s been blazing in forest near the Waimakariri River overnight.
The fire, on the Old West Coast Rd near Kirwee in the Selwyn District, measured about 70 hectares at 3.40am.
A distinct smell of smoke is wafting across Christchurch CBD, some 35km away from where the fire is ripping through pines and scrub.
A scorching hot day is forecast for the region, with an expected high of 31C.
A statement early this morning from Fire and Emergency NZ acknowledged many people would be anxious.
Crews were working hard to protect houses and prevent spot fires.
Initial evacuations had been completed with police also knocking on doors between Courtney Rd and Robertson Rd to let residents know they could need to evacuate at short notice.
People living outside the evacuation area who felt unsafe at home were also advised to leave.
A meeting for residents who had to leave their homes would be held at 11am today at the Kirwee Community Hall. An evacuation centre has been set up at the hall by Selwyn emergency management for those who can’t stay with family or friends.
“Smoke from the fire is covering a wide area, including much of Christchurch. If you are affected by smoke, stay inside and keep doors and windows shut to minimise exposure.”
A witness last night told the Herald huge pine trees were engulfed in flames within seconds.
Police were evacuating multiple houses in the area as the fire spread and had established a road block, stopping all traffic.
“The wind is blowing strongly and the fire is actively moving towards the coast. It’s spread a good kilometre or more now”.
“It’s spreading rapidly, very thick smoke,” the witness said.
Crews from Kirwee, Darfield South, Darfield, West Melton, Rolleston and Wigram are in attendance.