New Zealand declares state of emergency over wildfires

Fire fighters fight the blaze on the Port Hills Christchurch around Osterholts Road Tai Tapu

A state of emergency has been declared in the area and authorities have been sent in to help firefighters with the two fires.

A New Zealand Air Force C-130 was sent to Australia on Thursday to pick up materials to help the hundreds of fire fighters battle a series of blazes that has blanketed the city all week.

In its fourth day, the blaze has already spread over 2075 hectares and as of 16 February, 11 homes were destroyed.

The New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union, representing all career front line firefighters can reveal that Christchurch Fire Service Crews (career firefighters) were stood down and told to return to Stations while the catastrophic Christchurch fires continue to burn - said Derek Best, Secretary of the Union.

Corporal David Steven Askin, who served in New Zealand's SAS in Afghanistan, was killed in a helicopter crash in Port Hills, Christchurch.

Local Mayor Sam Broughton said changing winds had made the fire unpredictable, especially so as the region had been unusually dry for past three years.

"They need to look after one another, and make sure they have a place to go", he said.

Smoke and ash were being blown across Christchurch.

The Christchurch City Council said police had ordered the evacuation of 400 homes while many others nearby were choosing to leave.

Initial reports suggested up to 40 homes had been lost but the Civil Defence later revised the number down after they received a correction from police. "And I just yelled 'Get out".

A new mountain bike park, the Christchurch Adventure Park, was threatened by the fire.

The helicopter pilot who died while fighting the fire, Cpl.

In 2011 he was pictured emerging bloodied and exhausted after a five-hour battle inside Kabul's InterContinental Hotel after Taliban insurgents had attacked it.

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