Residents flee raging New Zealand fires

12 Février, 2019, 00:29 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Nelson Tasman Civil Defence group controller Roger Ball addresses the briefing this morning

New Zealand has seen some significant scrub and grassland fires, but the Nelson blaze is thought to be the biggest to tear through forest land since 1955.

The fire covers more than 2,300 hectares (5,700 acres) with a 25km (15 mile) perimeter.

"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.

Strong winds were expected, and officials warned that Sunday could be a "critical danger point" for the fire.

About 190 firefighters, 10 helicopters and two planes were deployed to battle the fire.

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.

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However, he warned that the fight was not over. But he added that he's hopeful valley residents will also be able to return home soon.

"When you have to leave your home and in some cases your livestock and animals and you don't know what's become of them, and you're staying with friends and family, then it's an uncertain situation for everybody", she told Reuters by telephone.

Authorities have said they believe the original fire was caused by a spark from agricultural machinery.

Fires of this size are unusual for New Zealand, with local media calling it the worst bushfire in 50 years.

"There's a high risk that what we end up with is a more flammable landscape that is more vulnerable to fire", George Perry, professor of environmental science at the University of Auckland, told the Guardian.

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