Fire crews racing against time to control Hanmer Springs fires before wind, heat arrives

It's a race against tomorrow's forecast nor'west winds and high temperatures to control the scrub fires north of Hanmer Springs in Canterbury.

Smoke quickly created hazardous conditions for traffic on what is the now main route between Christchurch and Picton. Source: 1 NEWS

While the eight fires which ignited yesterday afternoon have been contained by crews, they are not yet under control.

Hurunui District Council's principal rural fire officer Allan Grigg says he has 47 firefighters on site.

"Our concern is that the embers from the fires can travel up to a kilometre in the winds and cause flare ups," he said.

Mr Grigg told 1 NEWS that the overnight crews had to deal with a couple of flare ups, they haven't had any helicopters in the air today over the fire site.

"We have one on site and a further three on standby," he said.

At their peak yesterday afternoon, the fires closed State Highway 7 between Culverden and Springs Junction – the route that's currently the alternate State Highway 1.

And while the highway is open to traffic today, Mr Grigg is issuing a plea to drivers in the area to follow the temporary 30km/h speed limit.

"Thirty means 30 - not 50. We're relying on drivers in the area to take responsibility so we can leave our guys moving around the fire ground with hoses etc to focus on the job at hand," he said.

"Please don't stop and take photos or rubberneck."