Homes evacuated as fire rages at historic hall

About 50 houses have been evacuated as firefighters battle a huge blaze in a Christchurch mansion tonight.

The historic Antonio Hall on Riccarton Rd in Riccarton is on fire, sparking road closures and severe traffic congestion.

At least 15 fire crews are battling the blaze.

Fire and Emergency says the fire hasn't spread from the site, but is not yet under control.

About 50 homes have been evacuated as a precaution.

Fire and Emergency are asking people to stay away from the area so they can tackle the fire.

Crews received multiple calls about 5.20pm.

The property boast nearly 300 rooms and was once used as a Catholic seminary.

It is understood the hall - a category 2 heritage-listed building - was unoccupied at the time of the fire.

The fire has closed Riccarton Rd to traffic westbound from the intersection with Wharanui Rd and Clyde Rd and Middleton Rd eastbound.

Road users should use Blenheim Rd for east and westbound travel at the moment.

"We are seeing major congestion on Riccarton Rd from Clarence St westbound and from Hanson's Lane eastbound," the Christchurch Traffic Operations Centre said.

"We recommend that road users avoid using Riccarton Rd in the meantime, or expect significant delays."

Due to the size of the fire these closures are likely to be in place for some time.

Welcome Chinese Vegetarian Cafe co-owner Bernard Teo told Stuff the road was closed and firefighters were on the scene.

His cafe is just three doors from the blaze.

"We are about 300m away. There's heaps of smoke and we can see the flames.

"The street is empty, the road has been closed. There are firefighters here, we're in good hands."

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