Huge fires rip through vegetation in north Canterbury

Dozens of residents have evacuated their homes in north Canterbury after large blazes broke out in separate locations on Friday.

Four fires, measuring about 1sqkm, had broken out on Loburn Whiterock Rd - about 30km southwest of Amberley - forcing the evacuation of homes in the area.

"We have eight fire trucks, three tankers and three helicopters working on this fire," FENZ said.

"If you're in the area, please stay alert for any instructions from emergency services and if you're affected by the smoke, the advice from [Ministry of] Health is to close your windows and doors and reduce outdoor exercise."

Properties were also earlier evacuated in Amberley's Racecourse Rd due to a fire in the area, measuring about 1km by 500m. 

The Amberley blaze had since been contained but crews would be working into the night to fully extinguish it, FENZ assistant commander Des Irving told reporters.

High winds were making firefighting conditions challenging, he said.

"Two helicopters and several crews of firefighters are still working to put out the fire, and heavy machinery is bring brought in to assist," FENZ said in an update at 4:45pm.

A helicopter tackles the Amberley fire.
A helicopter tackles the Amberley fire. Photo credit: Mitch Redman/Newshub.

The Hurunui District Council said Racecourse Rd residents had since been allowed to return home.

"However, the situation could still escalate and people should be prepared to evacuate, if the fire flares up again.

A cordon was in place near the scene of the Amberley blaze.
A cordon was in place near the scene of the Amberley blaze. Photo credit: Mitch Redman/Newshub.

"Please consider evacuation plans for your own homes. It is always better to be prepared," the council said.

The fires come as temperatures climbed above 30C across Canterbury on Friday. As of just before 6pm, temperatures remained in the high 20s.