Wildfires in New Zealand prompt hundreds of evacuations

2017-02-15 19:05
A helicopter dumps water on a wildfire in the Port Hills near Christchurch in New Zealand. (Mark Baker, AP)

A helicopter dumps water on a wildfire in the Port Hills near Christchurch in New Zealand. (Mark Baker, AP)

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Wellington - Hundreds of people in the New Zealand city of Christchurch were evacuated from their homes on Wednesday as wildfires threatened some suburbs.

At least one home was razed in the Port Hills area.

Selwyn Mayor Sam Broughton said that he was planning to declare a state of emergency, as was the mayor of adjacent Christchurch. He said changing winds had made the fires unpredictable.

He said the region had been unusually dry for the past three years and that the grass in the hills had turned brown over the Southern Hemisphere summer.

Smoke and ash was being blown across Christchurch, New Zealand's second-largest city. Broughton said displaced residents were staying at evacuation centres or with relatives.

"They need to look after one another and make sure they have a place to go to" he said.

New Zealand's military has been deployed to provide water tankers and engineering equipment as well as firefighters and other personnel.

A helicopter pilot died in a crash while fighting the blaze on Tuesday.

Read more on:    new zealand  |  fires

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