Several homes have been evacuated in rural Otago after a large paddock fire rapidly grew out of control.

Southern Communications shift commander Andrew Norris says they were alerted to the fire just after six this morning.

The initial paddock fire located off Stoneburn Road, off State Highway 85 near Dunback, has grown to take over a 30 to 40 hectare area of rural land.

Mr Norris says at this state the high winds in the area mean "it's not practical" to try and extinguish the fire which is still uncontained.


They have, in coordination with police, evacuated several remote properties in the area.

"At this stage the focus is on protecting those homes."

Mr Norris says once the winds die down they will work on extinguishing the fire.

There are currently 25 firefighters on site and a helicopter is on its way.

Strong winds mean helicopters cannot be used to fight the fire.

"Until weather conditions change there won't be a lot of proactive firefighting. It will be more protection of assets and things like that," a fire spokesman said.

Some homes downwind of the fire had been evacuated as a precautionary measure, he said.

Crews from Hampden, Waikouaiti and Palmerston along with rural fire staff have been deployed to check and protect houses in the area.


The cause of the fire is unknown at this stage.

Flights cancelled

Flights are at a standstill at Dunedin Airport as strong winds batter Otago.

Eight incoming and outgoing flights have been cancelled so far this morning, and Dunedin Airport communications manager Megan Crawford said "at this stage, there don't seem to be any flights coming in or going out from the airport".

The problem was with landing, Ms Crawford said.

A Wellington flight scheduled to arrive at 11.15am would "probably have problems" landing.

"The wind gusts are still pretty severe," she said.

There were also cancellations at Queenstown Airport this morning, where at least six departing and arriving flights have been cancelled so far.

Wind gusts are forecast to get up to 48km/h in Dunedin and 33km/h in Queenstown today.

Strong winds batter area

Strong winds damaged power lines in Port Chalmers yesterday, leaving about 50 residents without power.

The broken lines, caused by a conductor detaching from a power pole, affected several properties in Constitution Rd, Delta general manager of capability and risk Matt Ballard said.

Power was restored after about two hours.

Strong winds on Sunday damaged several power lines and lifted roofs off properties.

PowerNet chief executive Jason Franklin said fewer than 100 people were still without power in Southland and Otago as a result of strong winds on Sunday and Monday.

That was down from the 11,000 who were without power on Sunday evening.

Mr Franklin said the conditions had stretched the company's resources but it was prepared to deal with any further disruptions.

- Additional reporting: NZME