Anxious Christchurch residents evacuated from their Port Hills homes overnight are urgently trying to check whether their homes are still standing.
Hundreds fled their homes last night as the fire threatened their houses.
This morning, residents who spent a restless night at welfare centres and with friends were trying to get back to their homes.
At a cordon on the intersection of Dyers Pass Rd and Hackthorne Rd, monitored by police and the army, traffic became chaotic as people descended trying to find out information.
Chas Muir, 65, was evacuated from his Harry Ell Drive home near the Sign of the Takahe about 9pm.
"From the Sign of the Takahe you could see it was really close, stretching right down the gully, to the new Adventure Park and to Kennedys Bush, you could see it go on for miles," Muir said.
"And the flames... you've never seen anything like it."
His home was damaged in the 2010/11 earthquakes and he is still involved in an ongoing insurance battle.
The first thing he saved last night was his papers, his "evidence" to support his claim.
Muir spent the night with friends in Christchurch. Ruth Dyson MP even offered him a place to stay.
"It's the Christchurch way. We've been through so much in recent years, we all look after each other."