A fire tearing through grassland, scrub and forestry in an area west of Bulls has now been contained.

The fire has been contained since this morning and firefighters were this afternoon still working to put it out.

"It's not getting any bigger," Fire and Emergency NZ said.

Yesterday, the blaze was expected to burn on for 'a day or two', fire services said.

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"Crews from all over the Manawatu, Rangitikei and Wanganui have been fighting a fire in grassland, scrub, and forestry for the past few hours," Rangitikei Rural Fire said in a post on Facebook.

The post also lauded a group of local farmers and contractors who helped the fire crew build fire breaks: "We volunteer to do this, you don't, that's [heroes] right there," the post read.

Eight helicopters and multiple crews continue to battle the blaze, Fire and Emergency New Zealand said. It was unable to confirm if two businesses near the blaze were safe.

The fire is between Brandon Hall Rd and Pukepapa Rd extension, west of Bulls. Image / Google Maps
The fire is between Brandon Hall Rd and Pukepapa Rd extension, west of Bulls. Image / Google Maps

The fire was between Pukepapa Rd extension and Brandon Hall Rd and was threatening the Santoft Forest and Farmland Foods.

Meanwhile, the sheer size of the fire left residents and those travelling through the area shocked.

Camille Farr said the sky was covered in a haze of yellow smoke.

"We could smell it as we drove just after Bulls where we were right in the midst of the smoke," she said.

"The closer we got the more [we] could see how thick and large the mass was. It was glowing.

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"So scary to see after [the] Aussie fires and it was really quite windy as well."

Residents in Fielding, at least 20 minutes away from the fire, reported being able to smell smoke.

By 10pm Saturday, the fire had grown to 80 hectares and was creating considerable smoke drift to the east, with reports of smoke coming from the Manawatu Gorge, Woodville, and as far away as the Central Hawke's Bay, a statement from Fire and Emergency NZ said.