New Zealand wildfires show no sign of easing; 3000 flee

New Zealand wildfires show no sign of easing; 3000 flee

The Minister for Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni has commended the efforts of everyone involved in tackling New Zealand's largest bush fire in decades.

The fire erupted early last week amid scorching conditions in the heavily forested area and by early Monday had swept through an estimated 2,300 hectares.

About 3 000 people who fled as a wildfire threatened a New Zealand town were allowed to return home on Monday as firefighting conditions improved.

A massive bushfire has churned through more than 5,600 acres on New Zealand's South Island in what is believed to be the country's worst forest fire since 1955, BBC reports.

Fire and Emergency incident controller John Sutton said it felt like they may have turned a corner, and they would know by the time it gets dark tonight whether or not that's so.

Strong winds were expected, and officials warned that Sunday could be a "critical danger point" for the fire.

"I'm anxious about tomorrow, to be honest", Sutton said.

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"There's still an enormous amount of heat there and there's a lot of unburned areas", he told reporters.

"Returning residents need to understand and accept that they need to be prepared to evacuate again if conditions change", he said.

The New Zealand Red Cross communications manager Ellie van Baaren said evacuees were exhausted and frustrated.

Much of the affected area south of Nelson was used for forestry but it also has many small farms.

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

An aerial view of a wildfire near Nelson, New Zealand, yesterday.

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