A father and son watched their family home near Darfield burn to the ground after a burn-off on someone else's land got out of hand.

Their home was the only one destroyed in yesterday's large blaze after the fire travelled down a hedge line to their house.

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Home destroyed in major South Island fire

Graeme Knowles says the farm was his father's legacy and with his mother dying quite a few years ago, it was his safe haven.

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He says even his father's prized gemstone and agate collection exploded in the fire.

Luckier families, who were evacuated during the large fire near Darfield, will be able to return to their homes this morning.

Three families stayed at the evacuation centre last night, while others stayed with families and friends.