Residents spent a nervous night on the edge of the Nelson scrub fire overnight - with reports of looters prowling evacuated areas.

The massive firefighting mission ramps up for day three this morning, with flare-ups visible around the northern edge of the blaze, around Redwood Valley.

Residents of Maisey Rd were evacuated yesterday as the fire threatened to tower over their homes.

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Valley of fire - blaze grows to four times the size of Auckland's CBD.

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But some homeowners on a new subdivision, Galeo Estate above Maisey Rd, stayed the night to look over their properties.

The devastation caused by the Tasman blaze. Photo / Tim Cuff
The devastation caused by the Tasman blaze. Photo / Tim Cuff

One resident said he woke at 3am and went outside to check on the fire when he saw "looters" lurking around.

"I put my spotlight on them and they took off at speed," he said.

Acting Tasman district police commander Zane Hooper said police were "very sensitive" to people forced to leave their homes.

Fire, police, and Civil Defence all reassured residents that evacuation was not a decision taken lightly, and they would get people back in to their homes as soon as it was safe.

He said police had not received reports of looting, saying they had brought in 40 extra staff to handle cordons, and carry out patrols and keep people and property safe.

More than 100 firefighters have been working through the night to combat the 1900ha blaze.

About 400 people have been evacuated from about 180 homes around the fire.

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Officials don't know the full scale of the damage, but at least one home has been destroyed.

Nelson Civil Defence controller Roger Ball told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking that firefighters have been making good progress.

"They're not describing it yet as contained, but they're working towards that, and that's the plan for today.

"A lot depends on weather conditions and a number of other factors, but the forecast isn't too threatening and we're hoping to make good progress."

 Firefighters battle a blaze as 235 homes were evacuated from the area in the Tasman district. Photo / Getty
Firefighters battle a blaze as 235 homes were evacuated from the area in the Tasman district. Photo / Getty

Ball said Civil Defence officials would meet with residents at Appleby Fire Station at 9am.

"Our focus today is really to engage with the community. We're starting the process to keep them up to date.

"Obviously people are concerned, they're anxious. We're commencing outbound calling to check in with them."