Strong winds will fan wildfires that have been burning for a week through New Zealand’s South Island, Reuters reports. Thousands of people are forced to leave their homes.
The Pigeon Valley fire covers 2,300 hectares and its perimeter is 25km. Early Saturday morning, 155 firefighters were battling the fire on the ground, while 23 helicopters and 3 fixed wing planes provided air support. This is the largest aerial firefight in the history of New Zealand.
About 3,000 residents were evacuated from the Wakefield and Pigeon Valley areas. They left their homes and livestock unattended. More people were likely to be forced from their homes on Sunday.
The fires started on Monday and Tuesday and quickly spread. On Wednesday, authorities declared a state of emergency. Hundreds of volunteers and professional firefighters, police, and military personnel are currently fighting the fire.