Six helicopters helping firefighters tackle a “significant” vegetation fire in Nelson’s Lee Valley this evening have been grounded after a drone was spotted in the area.
A seventh helicopter was stood down before it reached the fireground, Fire and Emergency New Zealand said in an update.
“There are three separate areas of fire, spreading uphill into a pine plantation.”
As of 5.30pm, the fire is estimated to have covered about three hectares and is not yet contained.
Eleven houses on River Terrace between the Lee Valley Bridge over the Wairoa River and Mead Rd have been evacuated by police.
Nelson-Tasman Civil Defence said in a post to its Facebook page that a civil defence centre has been opened at the Wanderers’ Clubrooms on Lord Rutherford Dr.
“If you have been evacuated and need assistance, then the team will be there to help.”
Fire and Emergency are urging people to stay well away from the area.
“People in the area are urgently asked to avoid non-essential travel, particularly on Paton Rd, as traffic congestion is delaying some fire trucks from reaching the fire.”
Police earlier helped evacuate people from local swimming spots and road closures are in place.