Section of State Highway 1 reopens as large fire tears through vegetation near Canterbury's Waipara

  • Updated
  • 07/02/2024

Firefighters are continuing to battle a large scrub fire in north Canterbury that prompted evacuations and closed a section of State Highway 1 last night.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) said multiple fire crews and helicopters were fighting the blaze on Tuesday, near Glasnevin in the Hurunui District, which was on both sides of the highway. 

"The fire has now been contained," FENZ said in a 9pm update. "This means it is no longer growing in size but is still actively burning, meaning smoke will still be in the area for some time.

"Heavy machinery is on its way to the scene to assist with firefighting efforts.

"Two homes were evacuated, with multiple structures remaining under threat."

On Tuesday, temperatures climbed to 29C in the Waipara area and remained at 25C as of 7:45pm.

In an update late on Tuesday night, FENZ said a single lane of State Highway 1 was re-opened near Glasnevin, with traffic control in place to allow both north and southbound traffic to pass through the area where the fire has burned.

FENZ incident controller Des Irving extended his thanks to those who have been stuck on either side of the road closure for their patience.

He said there were multiple crews on the scene overnight, with more to come in on Wednesday morning to complete the mop-up and extinguishment of the fire.

The size of the fire remains at five hectares.

Some residents who self-evacuated have been able to return to their homes, while the evacuation centre at the Waipara Hall remains open. The one at the Tin Hut in Amberley has closed due to it not being needed.

FENZ crews have been on high alert across the region due to tinder-dry conditions and hot temperatures. Overnight Monday, a large forestry fire forced multiple evacuations in the rural town of Kirwee, west of Christchurch. 

Last week, FENZ issued a wildfire warning for the large parts of the country including Canterbury due to expected "very warm temperatures" and "gusty winds". 

FENZ also said a northwest wind was blowing amid the Waipara fire, so residents to the southeast should close windows and doors and remain inside.