Wakefield residents have been warned to keep their phones on as they may need to flee during the night as the Pigeon Valley Fire continues to threaten the area.
Police are asking residents in the area north of SH6 Wakefield, between Pigeon Valley and Arnold Lane, to be prepared to evacuate overnight as the fire which has been burning since Tuesday continues to move quickly.
They stress it is a precautionary warning in case an evacuation is required during the night, not an immediate order to evacuate.
"We ask that people keep their phones on tonight should we need to contact them. There is a probability that a text alert may be sent. If this occurs please read these texts carefully as this message will describe if this is a warning or an evacuation."
Civil Defence said the fire has intensified over the past few hours.
Police have asked people in the wider Wakefield area to be prepared and take precautionary measures to reduce risks by:
- Removing flammable items from around your house - including deck furniture and doormats
- Dampening dry areas around the house
- Keeping doors and windows closed overnight.
They also suggest residents find any house pets and bring them inside for the night, contact neighbours and friends in the Wakefield area and make sure they are also prepared and prepare essential items such as food, clothing and medication to take should you need to evacuate.
Police and emergency services will be in Wakefield making public announcements to residents and Fire and Emergency NZ has crews in the Wakefield area as a precaution method.
A reporter at the scene, Will Trafford, said a number of people had started voluntarily evacuating the area.
"There is a steady stream of traffic," he said.
Trafford said there were up to three or four people in each departing vehicle.
He said wind gusts had slowed this evening, resulting in a much slower moving fire, but there were naked flames and a lot of embers going into the air.
The warning comes after further evacuations of approximately 25 more properties in the west side of Teapot Valley this afternoon.
In total so far, around 207 properties have been evacuated and over 400 people have been affected by the fires that exploded in Pigeon Valley near Wakefield on Tuesday.
Earlier this evening some residents were permitted temporary access to check on properties and animals affected.
Emergency management group controller Rob Smith said depending on progress with the fire and weather conditions tomorrow, it may be possible to access other areas.
Residents will be directly contacted if this is possible.
Forty-four firefighters will be actively attacking the fire overnight. They will continue to create fire breaks on the perimeter using five bulldozers, four excavators, and three tankers to suppress any active fire within 10 – 30m of the perimeter from spreading.
An additional three crews and heavy machinery will be arriving tomorrow to assist.
As the fire is still vulnerable to changing weather patterns FENZ will continue to monitor and respond accordingly.
Tomorrow, it is expected that wind is expected to pick up with warm temperatures and low humidity.
• If you feel uncomfortable staying in the area and you choose to self-evacuate please register with Civil Defence on 03 543 8400.
• If you are in danger or have immediate concerns for yourself or someone else call 111.