Multiple significant fires break out in Canterbury region

Multiple fires have broken out across the Canterbury region.

According to a fire and emergency spokesperson, seven fire engines were battling multiple fire fronts between Rolleston and Islington.

They were called to the area just before 3:30pm on Monday. Traffic has been stopped, and motorists were advised to avoid the area.

State Highway 1 near Templeton was shut for a time as well as another large blaze tore through the vegetation between the road and the railway line.

Newshub reporter Annabelle Tukia says several fire crews are on hand to try and contain the flames.

Mike Johns, fire and emergency area commander for the Canterbury region, says they believe a train started at least one of the fires.

"It appears a train has gone through," he told Newshub, "so we're investigating with Kiwirail to see what's gone on."

According to Mr Johns, the fires spanned an area of about 2 kilometres, but are now under control thanks to the efforts of the fire service and some private contractors who happened to be nearby.

One of these contractors, Frank Thomas from Greenscapes landscaping company, said the fire was so close to them, they decided to step in and help with their own tankers.

"Four or five of the guys just got straight here and wet down what we can, and just kept it away."

Multiple significant fires break out in Canterbury region
Photo credit: Annabelle Tukia/Newshub

Mr Johns said the fires are a good reminder to exercise caution.

"We are in the middle of a heightened fire season, and it doesn't take much to start a fire."

He says an investigation with Kiwirail will be underway shortly, to figure out exactly how the train caused the fire. The road will be re-opened shortly.

Meanwhile a third large blaze in Omarama has seven tankers, three fire engines and two helicopters working to contain the flames, with another command unit on the way from Timaru to assist.

Fire crews were alerted to this outbreak at 12:20pm.



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