New satellite imagery reveals the extent of the devastation caused by the fires that raged across 2000ha of Christchurch's Port Hills last week.

The fire began as two blazes on the afternoon of February 13: the first one in Lansdowne on Early Valley Rd, and a second one that started in a car park near Marleys Hill, off Summit Rd.

Two days later, they had combined into one large inferno, a state of emergency was declared and about 450 houses were evacuated.

Civil Defence Christchurch controller, John Mackie, described it as "beyond anything we've ever had to deal with".


According to the last online updates from the Christchurch City Council, most of the fire is now under control, the last major cordon for residents has been lifted and most evacuees returned home.

Nevertheless, a state of emergency is still in place and fire services are continuing operations because of the risk of flare-ups in forecast warmer weather.

Images released by Spanish company Deimos Imaging, were captured by its satellite Deimos-2, before the fire - on September 9, 2015 - and after the fire - on February 20, 2017.

Vegetation is red in the images, which were processed including the near-infrared channel, and the different shades provide crucial information on chlorophyll content and plant health.

The dark area visible in the image from February 20 reveals the extent of the fire devastation, which was just about 6km from Christchurch's city centre.