Helicopters and ground crews partially contain huge Canterbury fire

Five helicopters and 20 fire engines have partially contained an out-of-control blaze west of Christchurch which saw some families evacuated from their homes on Christmas Day.

The fire started in a hedge and burned across 100 hectares on Bealey Rd in Hororata, destroying a shed in the process.

A crowd gathered a safe distance away to watch the billowing flames and rising smoke.

The Fire and Emergency Facebook page said they hope to return people back into their homes soon.

"Still a lot of work to do to keep the fire contained as winds change," the Facebook post said.

Local man John McCorkindale was about to sit down with his family for Christmas lunch when his son, who is in the local fire brigade, got a beep.

"We've just sort of been standing here seeing what's going to happen," he told Newshub.

"It's terrible. It's just so dry and there's so much fuel around that it's going to be dangerous. And with the wind they've got a big job on their hands."

Local Donny Atutolu added it's concerning to see the way the fire is "jumping across" as the wind changes.

The cause of the fire is not known, but Fire and Emergency said people should read the fire safety checklist to keep properties safe.