Wild Canterbury winds lead to rural fires

21:03, Jul 30 2014

Canterbury firefighters were forced to battle a series of rural blazes as strong winds swept over the region yesterday.

As gusts exceeding 100kmh whipped up the inlands, firefighters from North Canterbury through to South Canterbury were called to several fires on rural properties.

Strong wind warnings are still in place today with winds expected to be strongest through the Canterbury high country, and also striking inland Otago through to Queenstown.

The latest major fire was caused by powerlines brought down by wild weather conditions on Two Chain Rd in Bankside, Selwyn, about 3.30am this morning.

Fire Service shift manager Andrew Norris said 30 large hay bales were destroyed as firefighters from Rakaia, Burnham and Dunsandel tackled the blaze.

Firefighters also fought a major scrub fire yesterday at a private rural property on Monavale Rd, between Cave and Albury, in the Mackenzie District about 3.30pm.


Strong northwesterly winds picked up embers from a controlled burn off, deputy principal rural fire officer Trevor Sim said.

Fortunately the wind had died down as firefighters arrived and wet conditions meant any embers were blown onto damp ground, he said.

Meanwhile, teams from the Hawarden and Waikari stations took more than two hours to extinguish a hay shed fire on Creans Rd in Hurunui about 1.40pm yesterday.

Norris said the two-bay shed was totally destroyed in the blaze, along with the hay inside. 

It was not yet known what caused the fire, he said.

Crews from Waimate, Glenavy and St Andrews were called in to douse a large hedge fire on Crowes Rd in Morven, Waimate District, about 3.30pm.

The MetSevice said winds died down overnight, but are expected to pick up again through to Saturday, bringing mild temperatures.

"Northwest winds should increase again over Canterbury and Otago during today and gusts of 130kmh are possible in exposed places. These wind gusts have the potential to damage trees and powerlines and create difficult driving conditions," it said.

The Press