New Zealand wildfire: Thousands of people evacuated near Nelson

Evarado Alatorre
Febrero 12, 2019

New Zealand Defence Force firefighters combat the Richmond fire near Nelson, South Island, New Zealand February 8, 2019.

About 3,000 inhabitants of Wakefield, just outside Nelson at the top of South Island, were ordered out on Saturday as flames razed bushland within two kilometres of their homes. The forest fire began almost a week ago on the South Island and burned 2 300 hectares. "So although we might be turning a corner, there will be firefighters working on that fire until well into March".

"While I'm immensely relieved there's been no loss of life and want to thank all of those involved in tackling this vast fire, it's clear there are going to be some hard times ahead until we get the fire fully under control and people back to their homes", she said.

Hundreds of volunteer and professional firefighters, police, civil defence and military personnel are battling the fires.

Fire crews have, meanwhile, contained several other blazes that broke out in the region during the week amid drought-like conditions. It burned down one house and prompted evacuations beginning on Friday.

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No significant rainfall is forecast in the area over the next two weeks.

He said residents who return need to be prepared to evacuate again if conditions change.

He said residents of valleys outside the village, which are much closer to the fire front, would have to remain in emergency accommodation until further notice.

Earlier in the week, 398 residents were evacuated from Pigeon Valley where the fire started on Tuesday afternoon.

Australia and New Zealand have been experiencing a hot Southern Hemisphere summer. New Zealand's weather has not been as extreme, although it did experience a heatwave over the last few days of January.

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