Firefighters contain blazes along Canterbury railway line

Firefighters say they have contained blazes along a railway line in Canterbury.

On Sunday afternoon multiple spot fires broke out along the tracks between Aylesbury and Darfield, west of Christchurch.

Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) initially said a number of houses were threatened, then in an update said there are no houses facing immediate threat from fire or reports of any homes being damaged.

"There are still multiple hotspots along the train line which are requiring the attention of the 17 Fire and Emergency crews, as well as the three helicopters," a FENZ spokesperson said in the update.

"The train line is still shut, but preparations are underway to re-open State Highway 73 soon."

Crews have been in attendance from Kirwee, Darfield, West Melton, Hororata, Dunsandel, Springfield, Wigram, Canterbury High Country and the Christchurch command unit.

How did the fires start?

A KiwiRail spokesperson told Newshub the fires were caused by a train.

"A freight train shunting wagons from a milk factory in West Rolleston was held back near Darfield earlier today after it created a number of grass fires along the track," they told Newshub.

"The train was stopped while the incident was being investigated. No one was hurt."

The track has been closed overnight between Rolleston and Darfield, affecting services including the TranzAlpine travelling from Greymouth to Christchurch with 172 passengers on board. Overnight freight services are also affected.

"Bus replacements are in place for the TranzAlpine passengers," the spokesperson added.

"We are sorry for the inconvenience, but safety has to be our top priority."