Canterbury fires: Fire and Emergency to stay on duty overnight to protect houses

Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) will stay on duty overnight in the Lake Ohau Village area to protect homes against the blazes which have caused so much damage on Sunday.

Four fire appliances will remain active, and a further six properties north of the village have been evacuated by police in case the wind veers in the night.

Fire and Emergency's Incident Controller Steve Jones says the 11 helicopters fighting the fire were stood down at nightfall and would be back in the air at first light.

Eight ground crews will also be deployed to the fire front on Monday to continue the ground attack.

Responders were called to the blaze shortly after 3am on Sunday morning. Fueled by strong winds, the fire tore through the Mackenzie Basin, destroying multiple homes.

Speaking to RNZ earlier on Sunday, Lake Ohau local David Stone said the small village now resembles a warzone.

The community had about 50 houses, he said, many of which are believed to have burnt down - including his own.

"We're semi-permanent residents here - near me is a couple who've lived here 27 years and their place two along from us, I think it's gone too," he told RNZ.

"There's been extraordinarily strong winds here - Ohau means place of wind, and it's certainly lived up to it."