Fire crews and helicopters battle rural fire fanned by strong winds

Fire crews are battling a fire in rural North Canterbury as strong winds fan the blaze.

Two fire engines, five tankers and a helicopter were at the scene at the Doone Homestead on Inland Rd, about 20 kilometres from Mt Lyford Village after fire crews were alerted to the fire about 11.20am, Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokesman Andrew Norris said.

A second helicopter was on its way to assist. After two hours, the fire was yet to be contained.

Norris said the fire covered an area of about 500m by 500m.

He expected crews to remain at the scene for several more hours as they battled the blaze “fanned by strong winds”.

A strong wind warning had been issued by MetService for the Canterbury High Country, with a forecast for northwest gales up to 120km/h in exposed places. The warning extended to inland Marlborough and Marlborough Sounds.

It was unclear what started the fire, but except for a hay barn, it wasn’t threatening any nearby properties, Norris said. “It’s burning rather well.”

It comes after fire crews battled another North Canterbury fire near Leithfield over the weekend when a blaze tore through about 2.2 hectares of forest.

The fire in a forestry block on Ashworth Beach Rd off State Highway 1 started on Friday evening and was extinguished on Saturday afternoon after a welcome spell of rain.