23 Dec 2010

Canterbury fires under control

12:20 pm on 23 December 2010

Firefighters battling a blaze in South Canterbury expect to be finished in time for Christmas but their colleagues north of Christchurch are not so lucky.

Strong north-westerly winds blowing tree branches onto powerlines have kept Canterbury firefighters busy during the past two days.

However they say the two larger fires are now under control.

The Fire Service says six helicopters were working on Thursday to contain a fire that has been burning in Waimate in South Canterbury since Tuesday.

Principal rural fire officer for South Canterbury Rob Hands says the perimeter of the fire is now largely safe.

He says 44 firefighters plus support staff and the helicopters are at the fire but he expects they will be finished by Friday night.

He says investigators are working to identify the point of origin and cause and there is a possibility power lines could have been involved.

In North Canterbury, another 40 firefighters are likely to remain at a 58 hectare fire near Leithfield Beach for the next three days.

The principal rural fire officer there, Graeme Knight, says the fire's under control but is deep-seated in parts of the pine plantation and will require much mopping up.

Canterbury firefighters have been called to 130 grass fires and 91 weather-related problems over the past two days, as strong, hot north-westerlies blasted the region.