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Fires in Canterbury fanned by wind

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 14/05/2016

Firefighters are battling three blazes in inland Canterbury being fanned by strong winds.

The largest is in an area about a kilometre long and 150m wide south of Rakaia Terrace Road, Selwyn District principal rural fire officer Douglas Marshall told NZ Newswire on Saturday.

He said the fire is in pine shelter belts and a "tree-flash" - an area of pine trees piled together - and it reignited from a previous fire.

About 40 firefighters are on the ground and have contained the blaze. They are supported by a 20-tonne digger and 10 fire appliances and tankers.

Two other fires in inland Canterbury, one of which is near this fire, are smaller and under control, he says.

Conditions in Canterbury are dry.

"Residents of Selwyn District are reminded the district is in a total fire ban," Mr Marshall said.

Christchurch received just 15mm of rain in April, well below average, according to NIWA's National Climate Centre.

Canterbury Rugby Football Union is giving referees the power to cancel club rugby games or move them to another field because sports grounds are too hard to play on due to dry conditions, The Press reports.

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