Exactly how many properties have been damaged by fires in Christchurch will not be known until much later, authorities say.

And although evacuated residents are eager to find out, those at the forefront of the emergency say their big focus remains getting the fires under control.

"Police have advised that it is expected that a large number of homes will have suffered damage from smoke, heat and fire,'' a Civil Defence statement said tonight.

"The number of damaged homes in total will not be known until the fire emergency has ended."


Authorities remained focused on controlling the fire and it was "not possible to assess the status of individual properties" at this time.

"We are aware that this is an extremely anxious time for residents who have had to leave their homes and we are working with other agencies to arrange for this information to be passed on to homeowners in the affected areas as soon as the information becomes available.''

In its latest update, at 7.30pm, Christchurch Civil Defence provided a run-down of today's big efforts as well as what was expected over the next few days.

An army of up to 400 firefighters have been on the ground fighting the flames, while 14 helicopters and three fixed-wing aircraft made up the crews battling the blaze from the air.

Special pods are also being used to shoot high-pressure water into the ground to extinguish roots burning below the surface.

Christchurch Civil Defence controller Dave Adamson said they had also welcomed offers of help from the US and Australia.

As a result, an Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft left for Australia today to collect five pallets of firefighting foam as well as other fire-retardant materials.

"A detachable fire pod is also being shipped from Wellington this evening, in addition to the four NZDF fire pods currently being used to fight the Christchurch fires."

Meanwhile, about 130 households remain without power in the Port Hills area.

· Cashmere Rd is closed between Hendersons Rd and Kaiwara St.
· Penruddock Rise is also closed at Cashmere Rd
· Worsleys Rd is closed at Cashmere Rd
· Hoon Hay Valley Rd is closed at Cashmere
· Kennedys Bush Road is closed at Cashmere Rd
· Sutherland Road is closed at Cashmere Rd
· Worsleys Track from Worsleys Road is closed
· Dyers Pass Road is closed between Hackthorne Road to Governors Bay Road. (Use the Lyttelton Tunnel or Gebbies Pass as the alternate route).
· Summit Road is closed between Gebbies Pass and Rapaki Track
· Old Tai Tapu Road is closed between Osterholts Road and Early Valley Road.
· Early Valley Road is closed at Old Tai Tapu Rd