'I haven't felt so panicked in my life' - Barn destroyed but homes saved in large Rolleston fire

Upwards of 40 hectares were scorched in Canterbury today after a fire in a Rolleston paddock quickly spread.

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1 NEWS reporter Thomas Mead is at the scene of the fire, which is causing major concern. Source: 1 NEWS

High winds proved a challenge for firefighters after the blaze broke out at around 4.30pm today.

More than 50 firefighters, 21 firetrucks and four helicopters tackled the large scrub fire by State Highway 1 and Waterholes Rd.

Members of the public were warned to steer clear of the area, the main route between Christchurch and Rolleston, due to smoke making visibility difficult.

Police have since closed the intersection between State Highway 1 and Waterholes Rd, with diversions in place.

System area commander Mike Johns told 1 NEWS the fire started in a paddock but "travelled quite quickly".

"Several houses were under threat but the guys did a great job saving the houses," he says.

"Wind was blowing, embers flying, a number of tankers and helicopters came in at the right time."

Mr Johns says he believes upwards of 40 hectares has burnt.

A hay barn has been destroyed in the blaze but 10 houses that were under threat were saved.

Serena Roberts lives near where the fire broke out and says when she saw it while driving down the road, she was terrified.

"I haven't felt so panicked in my life. I was literally shaking and a bit teary. [It was] very scary," she told 1 NEWS.

She believes her property wasn't one of the ones impacted, as it's on the other side of the road.

A Fire and Emergency NZ spokesperson says the fire isn't yet contained, however fire crews at the scene consider the blaze "under control".