South Island scrub fires now contained, but crews will monitor overnight

All the vegetation fires that broke out in the South Island on Saturday have now been contained.

About seven scrub fires ignited across Canterbury and into Otago, fanned by strong northwesterly winds.

Two outhouses and a caravan had been destroyed in Amberley and homes were evacuated there and in Waipara and Broomfield.

Three fires were still burning on Saturday night but were under control, Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) mid-south Canterbury district manager Rob Hands said.

Three crews would monitor the Broomfield fire overnight.

Hands said all residents who were evacuated from Racecourse Road had been allowed home by 8pm.

Crews would also monitor a fire at Waipara overnight, where contractor had been felling trees, as well as a blaze at Springfield, he said.

A grass fire at Tekapō had been put out.

Homes evacuated

Five houses were earlier evacuated in Amberley, and an evacuation centre had been set up in the town.

Residents of a house in Waipara had also been forced to leave.

Hurunui District Mayor Marie Black earlier said volunteer firefighters had travelled from up to 30km away to help to contain the blazes, and it was all hands on deck at the emergency welfare centre, she said.

“The welfare centre is at what we call the Tin Shed, which is a community building in Amberley.

“We will be doing everything to make sure that people are safe and that the impact on their lives will be reduced as best we can.”

Black urged people to stay away from the fires so that volunteer crews could do their jobs safely.

They were a “wonderful” team and she admired them all, she said.

The community always pulled together in an emergency, she added.

Firefighters plead for no more outdoor fires

Water being dropped on a scrub fire in Canterbury on Saturday 1 June 2024.

FENZ urged South Islanders not to burn any fires outdoors due to the high winds, and to thoroughly put out any fires already burning.

Hands said earlier there were fears the flames would spread rapidly as they were being buffeted by high winds.

The weather conditions were making it hard work for firefighters, he said.

“We were forecasting strong wind warnings this weekend… and that’s what’s happened. We’ve got wind anywhere from over 100km [down] to 60km/h on these fire sites.”

MetService earlier on Saturday warned of “severe gale west to northwesterlies” for southern parts of the country.

Strong wind watches were in force for Inland Canterbury Plains, Queenstown Lakes District, Central Otago, Stewart Island and coastal parts of mainland Southland, Clutha and Dunedin, as well as southern parts of the North Island.

Those watches had been lifted as of Saturday evening.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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