Two men have been arrested in Nelson for arson offences as hundreds of firefighters work to control a 2100ha fire in the Tasman District.

Overnight, Nelson Police arrested two local men on separate and unrelated arson offences.

These matters are also separate and unrelated to the current fires in and around Nelson, police said.

A 27-year-old male has been charged with three arsons relating to setting fire to rubbish skips around Nelson CBD from December 2018 to January 2019.


A 24-year-old male is being charged with two arsons overnight relating to setting fire to a rubbish skip behind a Nelson restaurant, and setting fire to a residential Nelson flat, as well as breaking into a number of cars.

The two men are thought to be unknown to each other and acted independently.

They will be appearing in the Nelson District Court this week.

Detective Superintendent Peter Read stressed that these arrests are not to do with the main fires in the area and these are still under investigation by Police and FENZ.

Meanwhile, Read said NZDF staff also observed a civilian operating a drone from outside the cordoned area during overnight patrols of Wakefield.

"They were spoken to by Police and asked to stop operating the drone, and they did so without incident," he said.

"We would remind people that the safety of the public and their properties is the priority."

There were 170 properties visited by Police and NZDF in Wai-Iti last night where residents were advised they need to prepare to evacuate quickly when given the word to do so.


"We are also aware from our MPI colleagues of rumours that some people accessing rural properties in the evacuation zone - this is across farmland, not through cordons," Read said.

"We want farmers and residents to work with us, not against us, and please ask that they respect these evacuation areas as safety is our number one priority."