New Zealand bush fire forces evacuation of homes | News | DW | 06.02.2019
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New Zealand bush fire forces evacuation of homes

A bush blaze has torn through thousands of hectares of land on New Zealand’s South Island, forcing the evacuation of more than 100 homes. The country has been experiencing some of the highest temperatures on record.

Emergency services evacuated some 170 homes on New Zealand's South Island on Wednesday, after a fire that broke out in dry conditions had doubled in size overnight.

The blaze started in Pigeon Valley of the Tasman-Nelson region, where authorities declared a civil emergency.

By Wednesday morning, the fire covered 1,870 hectares within a perimeter of 20 kilometers (12.4 miles), according to a Nelson Tasman Civil Defence statement.

Several houses had already burned down, authorities said, although there were no reports of injuries.

In South Island's third-largest city, Nelson — which lies close to the blaze area — residents reported ash falling over the city.

Read more: The frozen tears of New Zealand's melting glaciers

Strong winds were reported to have fanned the flame, with conditions making it difficult for firefighters to reach the affected forest areas.

According to local newspaper the Nelson Mail, an air force transport plane was being used to fly police officers and firefighters from Wellington to Nelson.

The fire started in tinder-dry conditions, following what were some of New Zealand's highest temperatures on record last week — reaching up to 34.3 degrees Celsius (93.4 Fahrenheit).

rc/amp (dpa, Reuters)

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