Flames 40m tall: About 40 properties evacuated as fire continues to spread

Flames as high as 40m are bursting out of a massive bush fire burning near Ahipara in the Far North this evening.

The blaze is making its way through scrub in Gumfields Historic Reserve and spreading east.

Around 40 properties on Reef View and Wharo Way have been evacuated by Police and residents are being encouraged to go to the local rugby club or Roma Marae if they need assistance.

Fire and Emergency NZ said the fire was about 1km by 1km and spreading.

Six helicopters and multiple fire crews were working to extinguish the slow burning blaze.

Residents along Foreshore Rd, to the west of Ahipara, near Shipwreck Bay are being ordered away from their homes.

Justin Edgecombe, a witness, says strong winds are fuelling the fire.

“It’s a massive, big scrub fire coming over the hill from behind [Ahipara],” he told the Herald.

“Where I was looking at it, I was a long away but the flames looked likely there were probably 30, 40m in the air.”

Dave Clark has a section on Wharo Way, which comes off Foreshore Rd, and says firefighters are making sure everyone gets out of the area.

The fire was burning towards the top of the hill behind them but it appears to be spreading downwards towards the coast.

Clark says the fire is massive and is burning through mostly native bush and he had never seen anything like it before.

There hasn’t been much rain in the area lately and conditions are pretty dry, Clark said. Firefighters have told him to find somewhere else to sleep tonight.

Clark says they are picking up water from the ocean and dumping them on the fire.

Edgecombe says police have arrived on the scene and are stopping people from driving up to the blaze.

A police spokeswoman says they were called about 6.10pm but were only there to control traffic in the area.

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