12 Jan 2013

Fire crews leave site of Prebbleton blaze

9:48 pm on 12 January 2013

Firefighters have left the charred land in Prebbleton, near Christchurch, after a blaze swept through 150 hectares of grass land on Thursday.

Fire crews left the site where they had been for more than 48 hours late on Saturday afternoon.

The fire began in a quarry and destroyed four houses and a chicken farm.

On Friday, a grass fire near West Melton hit a pine plantation and burned between 80 and 100 hectares of land.

The fire service said there were no fires in the region on Saturday, but a tanker remains on standby.

Crews have been on high alert as the hot weather threatens to spark new blazes.

The temperature in Christchurch is expected to reach 28 degrees Celsius on Sunday, but drop to 22 on Monday.

Selwyn District Council chief executive Paul Davey said people should not contemplate lighting fires of any sort, including barbecues.

He said the council is monitoring whether the current fire restriction needs to be upgraded to a prohibition as hot, dry weather conditions pose a further fire threat.

Federated Farmers chair of grain and seed in mid-Canterbury, David Clark, said farmers should try to have a large supply of water on site.

"Two thousand litres of water as a first response to a wildfire is incredibly useful and it may just buy a little bit of time until the volunteer brigades can get there."

Mr Clark said farmers should also avoid using machinery during the hottest times of the day, as even a spark from a lawn mower is enough to start a large blaze in the hot, dry conditions.

The Fire Service is urging Cantabrians to to be on alert for fires and dial 111 if they see smoke.