Thousands evacuated in New Zealand as firefighters tackle major wildfire

Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes in New Zealand as a major wildfire continues to spread.

The first started near the city of Nelson on the country’s south island around a week ago.

Authorities have in recent days evacuated more people from their homes in the town of Wakefield due to the ‘ongoing risk’ from the fire and wind conditions in the area.

A state of emergency has been declared as more than 100 firefighters continue to tackle the blaze, with around two dozen helicopters and planes also involved in the operation.

Officials said Sunday was a ‘productive day with less wind than forecast’, allowing them to conduct a controlled burn-off operation to protect some areas.

However, local civil defense controller Roger Ball, quoted by the New Zealand Heraldwarned that the risk still remains high – and that evacuated residents “should expect to be out of their homes for some days to come”.

In total, around 3,000 people are reported to have been evacuated from their homes.

Farmers and contractors in parts of the region have been banned from using machinery that could generate to sparks or fire.

The region’s emergency management group also says the usual fees for GP visits and prescriptions are being waived for fire-related appointments.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visited the area earlier this week, saying it was “incredible to see first hand the work going on to protect people, animals, homes and livelihoods”.

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