Hundreds of evacuated Tasman residents are entering a fourth day of uncertainty about the fate of their homes and livestock as a massive blaze near Nelson continues to burn.

As firefighters geared up for another day of intense work the Nelson community was scrambling to organise food for those in need after being cleared out yesterday.

The fire last night covered 1600ha, down from 1900ha earlier in the day, but is far from controlled and today's forecast brings little chance of rain to help the 100 firefighters battling it.

By late afternoon yesterday increased wind and humidity meant further evacuations were needed, bringing the number of properties vacated to 207 and over 400 people affected.

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There was little sleep for residents in the wider Wakefield area after Civil Defence warned last night to be prepared to evacuate if an emergency text was transmitted, urging those who felt unsafe to self-evacuate.

They clarified at 1.30am this morning that "significant planning" was behind the call to prepare to evacuate "just in case".

Mayor Richard Kempthorne said last night that he felt sorry for those who were being evacuated.

"I'm really sorry for the people involved and I know it's really stressful – particularly for people with horses or livestock.

"But the authorities who are asking them to evacuate are thinking of their safety."

They were precautionary measures, he said.

"Hopefully this will short-lived and they will be able to get back in."

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern talks with Fire Officials. Photo / Evan Barnes
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern talks with Fire Officials. Photo / Evan Barnes

It had generally been a good day for firefighters despite the flare up, he said.

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"They have actually had a good day without too much wind, they have been able to have good effect with the helicopters and ground crews fighting the fire."

Kempthorne said firefighters were putting their resources to best effect and working their way in from the perimeter to keep a buffer in place for people.

At least one property has been destroyed in the blaze and some stock have had to be put down due to burn injuries.

Social media had been able to connect those in need with those needing help but a kitchen established in the Nelson Suburbs Football Club was pleading for more food and water.

Margaret Goff, who has been helping co-ordinate the food drive, posted online asking for more help before the base reopened at the club on 142 Saxton Rd East at 7.30am.

"We have been very hectic tonight and almost all of our food has gone. People are frantically making sandwiches to send to Wakefield tonight."

There were in need of the following: Water, bread, sports drinks, toilet paper, snacks, paper plates, plastic cutlery, cups and coffee.

The centre was operating between 7.30am and 10pm daily.

Yesterday there were around 100 firefighters on the ground from Fire and Emergency NZ, the NZ Defence Force and the Department of Conservation, as well as heavy machinery operators and aircraft crew working hard to contain the fire.

Locals viewing the massive smoke cloud from the Tasman bush fire near Pigeon Valley, Nelson. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Locals viewing the massive smoke cloud from the Tasman bush fire near Pigeon Valley, Nelson. Photo / Mark Mitchell

FENZ worked on creating chemical fire breaks with fixed wing planes, digging firebreaks with bulldozers and digging reservoirs for monsoon buckets on the helicopters.

Earlier in the day, the Government announced a $20,000 Mayoral Relief Fund had been set up to help the authorities battling the Tasman fire.

Speaking from the emergency co-ordination centre where the council and Civil Defence are leading operations, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there were difficult times ahead for people until the fire is under control.

"I can only imagine how difficult it is to pack up what you can and to evacuate so I want to acknowledge the families who have had to do that – and I want to let you know we are here to understand how we can help in the days and weeks ahead."

The funds were in addition to other support that may be available from the Ministry of Social Development, Housing New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Meanwhile, officials announced the second Nelson blaze at Rabbit Island was being treated as suspicious.

A helicopter using a monsoon bucket fighting the Tasman bush fires near Wakefield, Nelson. Photo / Leon Menzies
A helicopter using a monsoon bucket fighting the Tasman bush fires near Wakefield, Nelson. Photo / Leon Menzies

A community meeting was told that it was "possibly deliberately lit", according to Civil Defence recovery manager Adrian Humphries.

The Rabbit Island fire blazed over 10ha yesterday afternoon. It had been contained by last night and mop up work was underway.

Police and FENZ are investigating the cause of the fire, which is yet to be determined.

Firefighters and residents of the fire-stricken zone have been given little hope of help from rain today, but at least the winds are expected to be light.

Isolated showers in the afternoon and early evening are forecast for west of Tasman Bay, but that is 20km from the 1600ha zone in which fires, that exploded in Pigeon Valley near Wakefield on Tuesday, continue to burn.

"I know the fire service would like to hear there's a big band of rain coming over but unfortunately that's not the case," said MetService meteorologist Lisa Murray.

The temperature today is expected to reach 22C, with a fine start and a partly cloudy sky from late morning.

Tomorrow is forecast to be another fine day in the tinder-dry Nelson/Tasman region, with showers confined to the mountain ranges, northerly breezes and a high of 24C.

Graphic / NZHerald
Graphic / NZHerald