Three dead in Christchurch crash

Three people have been killed in a fiery crash in Christchurch overnight after a police chase.

The pursuit began in the Christchurch CBD after a vehicle was spotted driving dangerously just after 11pm on Sunday night.

Police said they laid down spikes on Blenheim Rd in an attempt to stop the car after abandoning the pursuit.

They said the car hit the spikes and crashed into a tree before catching on fire.

Nearby residents said they heard the crash and walked outside to see "a huge ball of fire" as the car caught alight.

Ruth Maxwell said she came out of her house to multiple police officers standing near the blazing car.

"I don't think they realised what to do," she told Stuff, "they were as astonished by what happened as everyone else."

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has been notified and an investigation is underway.

Superintendent John Price said this outcome was "the last thing Police want to see."

"They are fast-moving, unpredictable and high pressure situations that require quick judgements.

"Ultimately, police are here to protect our community. Our staff must strike a balance between the responsibility to protect life and the duty to enforce the law."

He said they were now working to notify the next of kin.