Hundreds of firefighters are battling large scrub blazes as dry weather has created tinderbox conditions across the country, the Fire Service says.

Blazes in Canterbury, Marlborough and Manawatu are keeping about 330 firefighters busy.

Emergency services in Canterbury have closed roads in Oxford as fire crews work to contain the latest blaze, which started just before midday today.

The 60ha scrub and grass fire was about 1km long at its peak and was being blown by strong northwesterly winds along Woodstock Rd towards Carlton Rd, the Fire Service said.
The public had been asked to avoid the area.

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Earlier today, helicopters and fire crews were called to a vegetation fire near Bulls.
The fire started about 9.30am on Santoft Rd near Knottingly Rd.

Video: Nervous wait for family as fire surrounds farm

A fire that started in Marlborough overnight continued to rage today. Homes have been threatened from the fire blazing through 150ha of scrub near Onamalutu.
 A helicopter filling a monsoon bucket to help in the fight against the Marlborough blaze crashed today, but the pilot was able to walk away from the wreckage unscathed. Photo / NZ Police
A helicopter filling a monsoon bucket to help in the fight against the Marlborough blaze crashed today, but the pilot was able to walk away from the wreckage unscathed. Photo / NZ Police

A helicopter filling a monsoon bucket to help in the fight against the blaze crashed about 11.15am, but the pilot was able to walk away from the wreckage unscathed, police said.

Yesterday, a house was destroyed and hundreds of residents forced out of their homes when a scrub fire struck the western Christchurch suburb of Hei Hei.

The fires are part of an increased number of large scrub fires the country has seen in the past few months.

The National Rural Fire Authority's national fire officer, Kevin O'Connor, said there had been 130 large-scale fires between October 1 and January 31 - compared with 87 in the same period a year earlier.

"The hot, dry conditions are beginning to bite, and we are urging people to be especially careful and respect any fire restrictions."

The authority was dealing with the higher workload by redeploying some of the country's forestry and rural firefighters from lower-risk areas, Mr O'Connor said.

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There had been sharp spikes in November, when 39 fires had been reported, compared with 15 a year earlier, and also in January, when there were 53, compared with 37 previously.

In the last fire season - from October 1 to March 31 - there had been 176 fires, and Mr O'Connor said it was highly likely this year's total would easily exceed that figure.

"The weather conditions are not helping matters, but the fact remains most fires are started by people.

"Forty per cent of all rural fires are started by land clearance fires, rubbish fires or campfires that get out of control. Another 20 per cent are caused by vehicles and machinery. In all these cases, simple precautions can avoid endangering life and property."

Smoke can seen be across Christchurch as firefighters battle a massive grass fire southwest of the city. Fire crews and multiple engines have been called to Pound Rd in Yaldhurst. This reader video timelapse courtesy of James Theakston and YouTube footage from Zac Mackintosh.