Eleven homes gone in Port Hills fire

A helicopter is seen fighting a fire in Christchurch's Port Hills

The fire in the Port Hills district of the city began earlier this week but spread rapidly overnight to cover more than 1,800 hectares (4,447.9 acres), emergency workers said.

"A detachable fire pod is also being shipped from Wellington this evening, in addition to the four NZDF fire pods now being used to fight the Christchurch fires".

Residents in the area from the Sign of the Takahe, Cashmere to Victoria Park should evacuate their homes immediately.

John Mackie, the civil defense controller for Christchurch, said about 130 firefighters on the ground assisted by more than a dozen helicopters had stopped the fire from encroaching further into the city.

"There's a whole lot of people here who have been traumatized by the events, some who have lost their homes, many have been evacuated", Prime Minister Bill English announced after an emergency visit to the disaster zone.

"We're really struggling at the moment without the helicopters it's too unsafe at night for those, we are trying to do any structure protection we can but that's got to be balanced between lives", Selwyn Principal Rural Fire Office Douglas Marshall said.

On Thursday morning, Christchurch civil defence said a temperature drop and rise in humidity had improved conditions.

By nightfall, fire crews were battling a second blaze on Marley's Hill, south of the city. They are doing evacuations, joint patrols and reassuring people in the areas impacted by the fires.

The Civil Defence Minister says communication problems in this week's devasting Port Hills wildfires has highlighted the need for changes in the law governing emergencies. The estimated area of the fire is now in excess of 1850ha and still growing. This includes Victoria Park Road, Pentre Terrace and Dyers Pass, south of Takahe Drive.

At least three houses are known to have fallen victim to the blaze.

Evacuations have taken place from Worsley Road, Cracroft, Hoon Hay Valley Road and those living in the Westmorland area have been moved to welfare centres.

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