11 Jan 2013

Hectic day for fire crews in Canterbury

9:39 pm on 11 January 2013

The Fire Service has had a hectic day trying to control several fires throughout Canterbury.

The most serious - a large grass fire near West Melton - began about 2pm on Friday and scorched between 80 and 100 hectares of land off Thompson Road.

About 300 people attending a motorcycle rally at a nearby park had to evacuate the area.

Acting area commander Dave Berry says crews worked through the evening dampening down hot spots from the West Melton fire and they were able to respond quickly as they were on high alert.

Mr Berry says nine tankers, six fire appliances and three helicopters were used. "We hit it hard and hit it fast."

He says the fire was slowed and contained because there was no wind.

Meanwhile, fires near the Ashley River and near Cheviot in North Canterbury which began earlier on Friday night are now out.

A house fire in the suburb of Bishopdale is also out and an investigation is underway, while a grass fire near a gun range in Ashburton has been extinguished.

The Fire Service is warning Cantabrians to stay on high alert for fires as the region faces more dry and hot weather at the weekend.

The temperature is expected to reach 29 degrees Celsius on Saturday, with warm nor'west winds.

Mr Berry is urging people to dial the emergency number, 111, if they see suspicious smoke.

A total fire ban is in place for Christchurch.