Forty firefighters have a contained a “deep seated” vegetation fire in the bed of the Waimakariri River in Canterbury this afternoon but it is not yet out.
The fire was reported at 2.50pm on Saturday on the north side of the riverbed in Swannanoa, northwest of Christchurch.
Firefighting will continue until dark.
As of 8pm on Saturday, the vegetation fire was burning over an estimated 12 hectares.
Fire and Emergency Incident Controller Bruce Janes said one helicopter was continuing aerial firefighting this evening, supporting crews from several brigades. Overnight crews will patrol and monitor the fireground.
Six crews will return in the morning, supported by diggers.
Cordons will stay in place until the fire is out, and FENZ was aksing people stay well away from the area while firefighters focus on the task.
Although the cause of this fire is under investigation, Bruce Janes has repeated that people should not be doing any outdoor activities that could start a fire.
“Every household in a rural area should have an evacuation plan in case of wildfire, because in the current windy conditions, fires moved quickly and were very challenging to put out.”
Assistant commander Brian Keown said tankers and fire trucks were responding from local brigades, including Kaiapoi, Swannanoa, West Melton, Pine Beach and Spencerville.
Some resources at the site of Friday’s fire in Amberley were released to support the response.
Keown urged people to be extremely careful with any activities that could spark a fire, as the heat and wind make it challenging for firefighters to bring vegetation fires under control.
An investigation into the cause of the fire has begun.
Today’s blaze follows two fires across Canterbury yesterday, at Loburn and Amberley.
Houses, church damaged
The large fires at Loburn have been contained and controlled, and incident controller Colin Russell said fire crews have made good progress.
Two houses, a church and a number of sheds and structures including vehicles and machinery were destroyed or damaged in the Loburn fire which started around 3pm on Friday.
The fire at Amberley is contained and under control and firefighters are continuing to uncover and put out deep-seated hotspots with the help of heavy machinery.
The causes of all three fires are yet to be determined.