000 evacuated from New Zealand fire can return home

Remigio Civitarese
Febbraio 12, 2019

A massive bushfire has churned through more than 5,600 acres on New Zealand's South Island in what is believed to be the country's worst forest fire since 1955, BBC reports. The forest fire began almost a week ago on the South Island and burned 2 300 hectares.

"While I'm immensely relieved there's been no loss of life and want to thank all of those involved in tackling this huge 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.

"The feedback that we've had from those who were at the frontline of this fire was that there was a real intensity to this fire, that the drought-like conditions they're experiencing contributed to that", Ardern said.

"There's still an enormous amount of heat there and there's a lot of unburned areas", he told reporters.

About 190 firefighters, 10 helicopters and two planes have been deployed to battle the fire. "Although I sense we might be turning a corner, there will be firefighters working on the fire well into March".

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

A state of emergency has been declared and about 3,000 people have fled their homes in the district of Tasman.

"Returning residents need to understand and accept that they need to be prepared to evacuate again if conditions change", he said.

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

Australia sweltered through its hottest month on record in January and there have been wildfires razing the south and flooding in the tropical north.

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