Tasman fire live: Emergency services, Civil Defence respond

What you need to know:

•    Multiple bush fires have broken out near Nelson, including one on Rabbit Island on Wednesday afternoon

•    A state of emergency has been declared

•    The fire has now reached 1870 hectares and homes are being evacuated

•    Civil Defence Minister Kris Faafoi has flown to Nelson in the wake of the emergency

•    The fire has slowed but weather and wind could still fan the flames

•    Sixteen helicopters are working alongside ground crews to control the fire

•    Seventy-four homes have been officially evacuated, with 150 more self-evacuating

•    All evacuees are asked to report to St John's Church on Edward Street, so Civil Defence can record them.


5.20pm: The Defence Force has arrived to help fight the fires.

"Welcome to the RNZAF Hercules with additional police and firefighters to help with the Pigeon Valley fire," Nelson Airport said on Facebook.

Welcome teams, great to have your support, stay safe out there."

A massive plume of smoke rises from the fire, blocking the sun
An aerial view of the fire near Nelson Photo credit: Supplied/ Rui Ventura


4.37pm: A spokesperson from Fire and Emergency NZ told Newshub they were not speculating on the cause of the fires after speculation it was started by a farmer.

"We can't comment on cause, our focus is on putting the fire out," they said "A full investigation will be conducted once the fire is out."

The sun sets behind smoke from the fires near Nelson
The sun sets behind smoke from the fires near Nelson Photo credit: Supplied/Jack Burden

3.46pm: Ground crews and helicopters are responding to a new fire on Rabbit Island. People are being evacuated from Rabbit Island and neighbouring Rough Island immediately.

People are also being warned to stay away from the flames amid reports of onlookers blocking roads and smoking while watching the fire.

Smoke rising from Rabbit Island
Smoke rising from Rabbit Island Photo credit: Jarrod Robinson

Residents are being advised not to drive on affected or closed roads, as this will hinder firefighters and pose a serious risk.

3.14pm: The New Zealand Defence Force is sending seven fire fighters and three fire trucks to join those already fighting the bush fire in Nelson.

An NZDF aircraft en route to Christchurch from Auckland has been diverted to Wellington to pick up personnel from Fire and Emergency NZ and NZ Police to fly them to Nelson.

2.57pm: A bush fire has broken out on Rabbit Island, the Fire Service has confirmed. A Newshub camera operator can see the blaze from 5km away.

The fire on Rabbit Island
The fire on Rabbit Island Photo credit: Supplied / Drew Hawes

An Emergency and Civil Defence spokesperson said they could not confirm the fire was linked to the Tasman blaze


1.57pm: Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management is coordinating with central government, as well as officers from Police and Fire Emergency NZ to support Nelson Tasman Civil Defence Emergency Management Group.

1.54pm: Minister of Civil Defence Kris Faafoi and West Coast Tasman MP Damien O'Connor visit Nelson to offer support.

The two ministers have met with the local mayors for a briefing, alongside Civil Defence staff and local fire and emergency services officials. They will now head to the forward control point to meet with staff, and hope to fly over the site.

1.27pm: The fire growth has slowed, due to lower temperatures and more moisture in the air on Wednesday morning. However, the situation could very quickly change with the weather and wind.

Ground crews are in place in Eves Valley, Redwood Park, and Pigeon Valley. Sixteen helicopters are also working to protect homes and manage the fire.

Bulldozers are also in place working on containment lines in key areas.

1.22pm: The fire is still out of control.

Police and rural fire officers are warning the public to beware of embers.  Fire and Emergency New Zealand recommend residents check piles of dead leaves and vegetation, move outdoor furniture that could catch fire and check gutters for anything flammable.

Seventy-four homes have been officially evacuated, and more are self-evacuating. Civil Defence is asking anyone who leaves their property to register at St John's Church on Edward St.

12.37pm: Nelson City Council announces closure of multiple reserves and tracks. People are advised to stay out of the following reserves for their own safety. The risk of fire spreading uphill rapidly, due to dry conditions and strong winds means evacuation would be difficult.

  • Dun Mountain Triail
  • Grampians Reserve
  • Maitai Water Reserve
  • Roding Water Reserve
  • Marsden Vally Reserve
  • Venner Reserve
  • Brook Conservation Reserve

12.28pm: Nelson mayor Richard Kempthorne told Newshub the fire started as something minor.

"[It] started off yesterday about 3pm, with just by the sounds of it, a grass fire, pretty small but rapidly spread. Tinder dry conditions into the forest, and away it went with a very strong wind."

Fire tearing through the forest in Pigeon Valley on Tuesday night
Fire tearing through the forest in Pigeon Valley on Tuesday night Photo credit: Supplied/ Shaun Mahon

Deputy Mayor Tim King says the fire avoided his home, but is a huge worry for the region.

"It's now gone in another direction, it's still an extremely serious situation and there will be a lot of people in that direction away from us that will still be very concerned."

10.55am: An unofficial map shows where the fires are raging

10.48am: As the Tasman fires rage, the Defence Force has just announced it will be sending its firefighters across the ditch to fight the Tasmania bushfires.

Multiple bushfires, which started before Christmas, have been burning across Tasmania's south and central plateau, burning more than 190,000 hectares so far.

10.40am:Nelson Tasman Emergency Group asks all residents evacuated or self-evacuated to report to the Welfare Centre at St John's Church, Wakefield to register themselves.

10.32am: Tasman-Malborough Fire Area apologises via Facebook for lack of information regarding fire.

"Information over such a large fire front can be challenging to obtain and conform. Please, be patient.

10.27am: Five roads have been cordoned and evacuated. More evacuations are underway in Pigeon Valley South.

A graphic shows the location of the fire
A graphic shows the location of the fire Photo credit: Newshub

10am: A number of houses have been destroyed by fire in Eves and Redwood Valley.

A map of Eves Valley
Eves Valley Photo credit: Google Maps
A map of Redwood Valley
Redwood Valley Photo credit: Google maps

9.16am: Civil Defence Minister Kris Faafoi is urgently flying to Nelson in the wake of the state of emergency.

"Those who are in harm's way have been asked to evacuate. If people are concerned they should call 111." he told Newshub.

A road cordoned off near Wakefield
A road cordoned off near Wakefield Photo credit: Newshub

9.15am: 150 houses evacuated, state of emergency declared. As yet, there have been no reported injuries but 12 Fire and Emergency NZ crews have been working around the clock to bring the large scrub fire, which started in Pigeon Valley, under control.

8.40am: State of emergency declared