Stretched firefighters battle two large blazes

Smoke drifts across the Waimate Gorge during the bush fire. Photo / Alex Fensome
Smoke drifts across the Waimate Gorge during the bush fire. Photo / Alex Fensome

Stretched Canterbury firefighters are battling two large scrub fires.

Firefighters had been fighting a large blaze in the Canterbury town of Rolleston, since mid-morning, which posed a threat to nearby properties, Fire Service southern communications shift manager Chris Munro told NZPA.

Five water tankers, four appliances, support vehicles and helicopters were on the scene.

However, he understood firefighters were getting the blaze under control.

"I think they are hitting it hard to try and knock it back. It's just hard to tell in this wind," he said.

Meanwhile, firefighters are continuing to battle a 120-hectare scrub fire in Waimate, South Canterbury, which ignited yesterday afternoon and has now spread into forest.

Seven helicopters and two bulldozers are been utilised to contain the blaze, and a 10,000 litre dam is also being used, South Canterbury Rural Fire District spokesperson Lizzy Sutcliffe said.

Ms Sutcliffe said 63 firefighters were at the scene and 10 more were on the way.

State Highway 82 had been closed between Hodges Road and Parkers Bush Road due to the blaze, but has since reopened.

The blaze is one of around 100 fires that have kept lower South Island firefighters busy in the last 24 hours.

Fire Service southern communications shift manager Mr Norris said "extremely high winds and high temperatures" had set off a spate of fires from Invercargill to North Canterbury.

Yesterday firefighters battled a sawmill blaze in Loburn, north of the Chirstchurch suburb of Rangiora.

However, most fires had been minor and caused by trees falling on powerlines or scrub burnoffs reigniting, Mr Norris said.

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