A change in the weather has given firefighters battling a blaze in rural Marlborough a slight reprieve today.

The inferno to the north of the Wairau River, in the Waikakaho Valley, has been burning since Wednesday.

It's engulfing about 450ha, but that's remained stable for a few days.

Rob Hands, incident controller from the National Rural Fire Authority's national incident management team, said weather conditions had been "horrible" until now.


Strong, dry and hot northwesterly winds were fanning the blaze but today he said a cooler southeast change was helping, allowing firefighters to reach areas previously off limits.

"We've set a target for Tuesday evening to have enough control over the fire area that we could hand it back to the land owners to manage and monitor," he said.

"We've got 50 people on-site. We've got three helicopters and three or four heavy machinery items."

Mr Hands said there was some "activity" on one of the fire boundaries this morning, as flames crept down a hill, but that was now under control.

Earlier, nine houses in the area were evacuated, but residents there were now free to return, although some remained away at their own behest.

Yesterday, fire authorities held a meeting with local residents.

"They were all pretty comfortable with what's happened."

Mr Hands said firefighters appreciated the co-operation from the public.


The area, north of Blenheim, is a private forestry block.