Four houses were believed destroyed, residents were evacuated
and firefighters treated for smoke inhalation as scrub fires
burnt out of control on Christchurch's south-western fringe
Ten people were rescued in a "snap rescue" from a property at
the fire on Shands Rd.
"They got in fast and got out fast," said fire service centre
manager Ian Lynn.
Selwyn District Mayor Kelvin Coe said appliances from all
over the region helped fight the Selwyn Road blaze, including
crews from Banks Peninsula.
"All hands are on deck."
They would be at the site well into tomorrow, he said.
Anybody who had been evacuated because of the fires was urged
to stay with friends or family.
"For anyone who can't, we have a welfare centre being set up
at the Lincoln Events Centre to cater for any of their
needs," Mr Coe said.
Roads were blocked to stop traffic entering the area,
although residents were let through the cordons to salvage
what they could in case their homes were affected.
The main seat of the fire, at Prebbleton, was under control
by about 8.30pm and helicopters with monsoon buckets were
concentrating on attacking hotspots, police at a checkpoint
in Lincoln said.
However, the wind was still strong and firefighters were
taking no chances in case of flare-ups.
Critical to beating the blaze was preventing it from jumping
across Springs Road, police said.
Hedges and silos near Springs Rd were engulfed at the peak of
the blaze, but firefighters managed to keep it from jumping
Springs Rd into what would have been dry, open pastureland.
Student Emily Spink was in tears when she came home to find
her family home in the firing line of the fire.
"Mum and dad are away, and they've left me in charge," she
The Spink family's lifestyle block on Robinsons Rd was
downwind from the flames.
While four helicopters filling monsoon buckets from swimming
pools and irrigation tanks had contained the blaze, the
roaring nor'west wind continued to fan it.
Miss Spink was "shocked" when she found her house was behind
"I don't know what I'm going to do," she said.
Her parents were outside of cellphone and web coverage while
holidaying at Gore Bay in North Canterbury.
"I'm all by myself and there's always a chance the worst can
Farmer John Quinn leaned on a fencepost at the Springs Rd
cordon and shook his head, as firefighters battled to stop
the blaze spreading to his property.
"Bloody nor'wester," he said.
In spite of the fact the fire at the Kimihia crop research
centre could be stirred up to cross the road and engulf his
farmhouse at any time, Mr Quinn was philosophical.
"Being in the rural life you get kicks in the guts all the
time. You just have to start up again," he said.
Fields had gone to seed, and coupled with a lack of spring
rains and the relentless north-west winds, the fires were
inevitable, he said.
"It's bloody dry."
But he had confidence that the helicopters would bring the
fires under control, even if it took a few days.
"It's got hold of the gorse, which has dry roots that go deep
in the ground.
"They get it under control and then it sparks up again."
Mother-of-three Sharon Honeywill raced home from Hornby, in
Christchurch, when she first heard about the Shands Road
After negotiating four cordons, set up to keep people away
from the escalating situation, she got as close as her
neighbour's property but wasn't allowed any nearer.
The paddock behind her lifestyle block was ablaze, and
gusting winds were kicking up smoke and flames.
"I felt pretty defenseless," Mrs Honeywill said.
"I was looking at my house, wanting to go and save anything
personal, but when you've got your family there to think
about, you could only sit there and watch the paddocks
She described wild scenes of helicopters with monsoon buckets
flying around, livestock and a neighbour's horse "running
"We knew where the fire had started in some sort of gravel
pit on Selwyn Rd, but could see other fires that had started
"It was quite worrying, but luckily there was no-one at home
when it started," Mrs Honeywill said.
She was unsure if her house survived the fire, and fears the
worst for her neighbour Clive Hartley.
"It's pretty much a gonner by the sounds of it. We're pretty
worried about them."
When she spoke to APNZ from a friend's house in nearby
Lincoln, she was unsure where her and her three kids - Brook,
9, TJ, 8, and six-year-old Ford - would stay tonight.
Mrs Honeywill had contacted her insurers who told her they
would not cover accommodation expenses because her house was
She good-naturedly cursed her husband, Jim, who is away
working in Otago.
"He's missed every major earthquake we've had, and now he's
missed the fire. He's on his way home now and is going to get
a rark up when he gets here I reckon."
The wind fanning the Prebbleton fire was blowing towards
Lincoln, four kilometres away, but Lincoln residents appeared
to be remaining calm.
The local pub was busy and plenty of vehicles were parked or
being driven along the main street.
However, people were remaining vigilant in case the blaze
continued to move across the parched, open paddocks towards
A number of firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation in
the Prebbleton fire that started in Shands Road, TV3
It was almost 30C in Christchurch today, and combined with
the nor-wester, incident controller Chris Hewitt described
fire conditions as atrocious.
Earlier in the afternoon a single engine managed to get a
small fire off Lunns Road in Middleton under control.
Christchurch firefighters also battled a suspicious blaze at
a Christchurch primary school today.
Emergency services were called to Beckenham School on
Sandwich Road just before midday.
A classroom and library block were well alight by the time
fire crews arrived, shift manager Andrew Norris of southern
fire communications said.