Christchurch residents confused over council's decision to put on fireworks display during fire ban

Some Christchurch residents are scratching their heads over the council's decision to put on a massive public fireworks display during a total fire ban. 

It comes as the region fights a number of fires. 

State Highway 1 through Glasnevin in north Canterbury was temporarily closed on Tuesday night due to a fire and residents were evacuated. The flames spread fast and traffic crawled slowly. 

The large scrub fire was the latest to stretch firefighting resources.  

Across town, fire crews are still at a fire in Kirwee that has now been burning for three days. 

"A lot of forestry [is] involved there, so we've had to have heavy machinery working in there. We've had a helicopter on standby, four diggers working there today and about 80 firefighters," Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) Canterbury area commander Dave Stackhouse told Newshub. 

The Kirwee blaze began on Sunday night and, as residents fled their homes, the city was lit up by Christchurch City Council's annual public fireworks display - just days after a total fire ban came into effect.  

"It's a double standard really, why can they do it and we can't?" one Christchurch local told Newshub. 

"It sounds like a bit of an unusual thing to do given there seems to be quite a few fires at the moment. You'd never be allowed to do that in Australia," another said. 

In a statement, Christchurch City Council said FENZ had approved Sparks in the Park and they'd worked with them to ensure it was a safe event. 

So, what's the difference between that and backyard fireworks? 

"That's always the 2020 question with the public and we completely understand that, but our message is to attend safe, well-managed public displays, where the risk is reduced," said Stackhouse.