They're scattered near and far, the 3000 or so people evacuated from the danger zone of the ongoing forest fires south of Nelson.

They've gone to family, to friends, to camping grounds and motels.

Terry Coleman, evacuated from his Whitby Rd home in Wakefield on Friday, has gone to a paddock on the Waimea Plain where the grass is dead but the beer is cold.

He's one of the lucky ones - the 61-year-old and his partner, Lynn Wilson, own a self-contained caravan and have been able to set up camp in a landowner's paddock.


Coleman's six-metre boat, the couple's dogs Bella and Kobe and cat Tinker have joined them; their rooster and two chooks are at the animal rescue park in Richmond.

A cold one helps with the uncertain situation, as does Coleman's knowledge that the outcome of the fires is beyond his control.

"Our home is not far away from the fire. Everybody's worried."

In the heat of the day, Coleman can sit under his awning and look across the smoke-hazed Waimea Plains. At night, he can look skyward.

"I just sit around and gaze at the stars. What can you do?"

A Wakefield resident for 55 years, he's never seen the area so dry.

"This is real bad ... hopefully the landowner will let us stay here as long as it takes till we can get back home.

"If we've got a home to go to."