Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wildfire destroys homes in New Zealand

A wildfire has destroyed at least 11 homes and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.

Civil defence officials declared a state of emergency in the South Island city late last night as two blazes that had been smouldering for days merged into a single giant fire-front.

Christchurch City Council said more than 1,800 hectares of land had been torched in the Port Hills, an area of rugged terrain difficult to access to the east of the city centre.

About 1,000 people had been evacuated and, with winds forecast to pick up and fan the flames, authorities warned residents to leave at the first sign of danger.

"We understand it's hard for people to leave their homes but the fire can change direction and move incredibly quickly," police senior sergeant Ash Tabb said.

"If you're worried, don't leave it too late - it's better to be safe than sorry."

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