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Live: Civil Defence urges Tasman fire evacuees to register with only a third of those who've left their homes registered

That wraps up this version of the live updates. For our ongoing coverage of the Tasman fire, click here.

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The fire continues to burn on its fifth day and wind is forecast to strengthen on Sunday. Source: 1 NEWS

What you need know:

  • It's day five of the fire ripping through the Tasman region, which started shortly after 2pm on Tuesday.
  • At the latest, the estimated size of the fire was 2100 hectares with a perimeter of 27 kilometres. At least one house has been destroyed.
  • The number of people evacuating has been climbing the past few days. Yesterday, 35 people evacuated due to another fire nearby in Walters Bluff.
  • Any evacuees who are needing assistance with accommodation should contact the Civil Defence Centre at Saxton Field Stadium, Stoke or ring 03 543 8400.
  • If you are in the fire area, you can email us or send photos to news@tvnz.co.nz.

6:20pm - So far, helicopters have dumped half-a-million litres of foam and water on the Tasman fire today.

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People have been urged to register after evacuating their homes as a result of the Tasman fire. Source: 1 NEWS

5.35pm - Residents in the Wai-iti area are advised to prepare to evacuate. Civil Defence Controller Roger Ball says this is a precautionary measure, which allows residents time to plan for an orderly departure should it become necessary because of the progress of the fire.

Those residents in the yellow area are advised to prepare to evacuate. Source: Civil Defence

There is advice for people who may need to evacuate here while people with animals may want to consider moving these proactively.

Large animals of all types can be taken to the Richmond Showgrounds. Horses, sheep and goats can be accommodated in empty stables - use the Campground Gate to the Showgrounds and follow the road to the stable blocks. 

Anyone who decides to self-evacuate is asked to register with Civil Defence. Please either call 03 543 8400 or go to the Civil Defence centre at Saxton Pavilion in Stoke.

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Incident Controller John Sutton says fire fighters could have the Tasman fire under control in a matter of days if it wasn’t for the excessive winds. Source: 1 NEWS

4.32pm - Mr Sutton says crews could control and contain this fire in a matter of days if it weren't for the excessive winds. He says with the winds crews will continue fighting the fire until it rains.

4.30pm - A Civil Defence spokesperson has said 900 Wakefield properties approximately have been evacuated to go along with the 200 evacuated earlier in the week from Pigeon Valley. There has been a total of 2500 to 3000 people evacuated but only 863 have registered with Civil Defence. Those who have not registered yet are urged to do so. 

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Area fire manager Grant Haywood says no arrests have been made over either of the fires near Nelson, saying arson being labelled a cause was speculation.

4.26pm - The cause of the fire at Atawhai yesterday is under investigation and there have been no arrests. The same applies to the fire on Rabbit Island.

4.25pm - Mr Sutton says high winds means they won't be able to put people in place to fight the fires because it is too dangerous.

4.20pm - Grant Haywood says there is relief crews from Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin allowing bosses to give volunteer crews a rest.

4.18pm - Mr Sutton says the threat is still there for Wakefield. The fire has moved onto a flat and is less than 2km from the town, Mr Sutton said.

4.16pm - Incident Controller John Sutton told there was a particular focus on two areas of risk today. One was in the south-east, where fire fighters have been able to slow the fire but not stop the fire. The other area of concern was the north-western area.

4.10pm - A Civil Defence spokesperson has told media that they are particularly concerned about weather conditions tomorrow.

3.30pm - The media stand-up scheduled for 3.30pm has now been delayed until 4pm. We'll have live coverage of that in a little under 30 minutes.

2.45pm - The situation as it stands currently is that some 3000 people have been evacuated over the five days that the Tasman fire has raged in what is New Zealand's worst bushfire in 50 years. 

The Nelson blaze is thought to be the biggest to tear through forest land since 1955.

2.20pm - Civil Defence have given the following update:

- Fire activity has increased this morning, passing the trigger point for evacuation for the Wakefield area at around midnight last night.     - Our most significant efforts are currently focused on a fire front near Wakefield which is moving slowly downslope.

- Today there are 23 helicopters, two fixed-wing planes, one drone team, 29 firefighting crews and around 150 firefighters with a mix of vegetation and structure specialist crews from right across the country, from as far north as Auckland to as far south as Southland.

- Additional resources from around the country will also be arriving to assist and replace some crews who have been working for 5 days.

- The relative humidity has increased this morning which will help firefighting efforts today.  

- The fire at Walters Bluff is still under control and three crews and a bulldozer will be on site working to extinguish remaining fire.

- A new safer speed limit of 80kph has been introduced on the Kohatu detour route. Please obey this limit for everybody’s safety.  

- A welfare line has also been set up, those in need of support or wanting to support others should call your General Practice or              Healthline on 0800 611 116.

- The NZ Defence Force are continuing to run escorted convoys through the portion of SH6 that runs through Wakefield township from 8am to 6pm today to allow access for residents who would otherwise not be able to get past cordons.

- Reminder to all those who have evacuated are asked to register at Saxton Field Stadium, Stoke or ring 03 543 8400.

- There are also ways that you can reduce fire risk to your property including; removing flammable items from around your house such as deck furniture, firewood and door mats, dampening dry areas around the house, especially where dry leaves could gather, such as gutters, decks and keeping gutters clear and windows closed.

2.03pm - NIWA have now put a Nelson livestream on Youtube for the next 8 hours. Link here

1.15pm - In the past 24 hours a makeshift animal shelter at the Richmond A&P grounds has welcomed about 350 evacuated animals, including horses, pigs, chickens and even a turtle.

Carolyn Press-McKenzie, from Helping You Help Animals (HUHA), said the initiative started with her jumping on a plane from Wellington with the plan to help out wherever she could.

"Any animal that needs shelter - we're here and ready for them," she said. "There's a lot of emotion. There's nothing worse, I think, than being displaced as a family and for people these animals are their family." 

HUHA is a charitable trust which provides shelter for less fortunate animals. Ms Press-McKenzie said people trusted in the organisation to care for their pets during the fire.

"We've got this, we can handle it. Anything that they [evacuees] need, we've got it under control," she said.

1.00pm - Another media stand up is planned for 3.30pm. We'll have live coverage of the event.

12.50pm - According to NIWA there have been several flare-ups in the fire at Walter's Bluff.

11.45am - New Zealand Emergency Services Solutions has created a Givealittle page for victims of the fire and those who have worked to contain it.

The page, which was created on Wednesday, has raised $1150.

"Homes have been destroyed, thousands of residents have been evacuated and a state of emergency has been declared," the page says. "Our goal is to raise as much money as we can to distribute to our bush fire victims and our Emergency Services volunteer groups.

Money raised will be distributed to bush fire victims "who do not know yet what they will be returning to over coming days", as well as to various NZ Emergency Services groups whose personnel "dropped everything, left the comfort of their own homes, families and jobs behind" to help in the efforts, the page says.

11.30am - The blaze continued to burn actively overnight, passing the trigger point for evacuation for the Wakefield area about midnight last night. 

"Fire activity has increased this morning. Our most significant efforts are currently focused on a fire front near Wakefield which is moving slowly downslope," Fire and Emergency said in a statement.

Today 23 helicopters, two fixed wing planes, one drone team, 29 firefighting crews with about 150 firefighters, 47 incident management staff members, and 23 heavy machines, including excavators and bulldozers, would be fighting the fire.

Additional resources from throughout the country will also be arriving to assist and replace some crews who have been working for five days.

11.05am - MetService is showing no rain for the Nelson area in the next five days, and high levels of humidity at 72 per cent.

The temperature is forecast to sit in the mid 20s for the next week.

Today’s winds are also forecast to be lower than yesterday, Fire and emergency said, gusting up to around 30km/h by 6pm today and are predicted to increase to 50km/h tomorrow. 

10.10am - There are differing reports on how many people have been evacuated in the fire. 

Inspector Zane Hooper, acting commander of the Tasman district said, "We successfully completed late last evening the orderly evacuation of Wakefield. This was a significant undertaking and I'd like to thank the community for their assistance in that process."

The evacuation was broken into two stages, and led to the evacuation of about 570 homes in the area, "which in normal conditions houses about 3000 residents", he said.

A Civil Defence spokesman earlier said they were managing about 2500 people who were now out of their homes from more than 1000 evacuated properties in Wakefield - which makes up about 860 of the homes - and Pigeon Valley.

9.05am - "There are still active concerns about the fire," Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne said.

"I can assure anyone that is just questioning what's going on that the primary focus is just keeping people and properties safe. So people come first, properties second."

Everyone involved in the operation was doing a "tremendous job", he said. "I'm absolutely in awe of what they're doing."

9.00am - Kevin Kim, of the New Zealand Defence Force, said the NZDF was working with authorities to provide security and assistance.

More than 50 personnel were deployed, including air force personnel.

"We are currently prioritising the safety of the community," Mr Kim said.

8.55am - Inspector Zane Hooper, acting commander of the Tasman district, said three policing districts were now working on the operation,  including an influx of new recruits from police college. More than 110 NZ Defence Force staff are also supporting police.

"We'd like to thank the community for all the support we've been provided," Mr Hooper said. "We are evacuating people to keep people safe from the fire.

"We understand the community's desire for answers in terms of how the fire started," he said. "Rest assured that police, along with our FENZ colleagues, will be following up all lines of inquiry that are available to us. However, our focus remains contributing to the emergency response and ensuring public safety as a priority and providing patrols in the areas that are affected."

8.40am - Fire and Emergency New Zealand Regional Manager John Sutton said although conditions were favourable last night, the battle continues.

"It's moving very, very slowly at present," he said. But it is less than 10km from the Wakefield township.

"We now predict with the current weather it would take 6 hours for that fire to burn to the river flats where it is."

Once the fire gets to the flats, it would be less than 2km from the township, he said. There would also be a change in vegetation type - a lot shorter.

The scrub would burn quickly towards the town. "You just can't put people in front of a fire," Mr Sutton said.

"When the winds were blowing strong two days ago when the fire was getting started, we were exceeding 1km per hour.

"I'm worried about tomorrow, to be honest. We are in quite a good place strategically today, but we are in the hands of God when it comes to the wind. If we have winds that are anywhere near 50km today, we're in trouble."

But we are in the hands of God when it comes to the wind - if we have winds that are anywhere near 50kms today, we're in trouble. - John Sutton

The winds are predicted to be 50km/h tomorrow, so Mr Sutton was concerned the fire could spread.

Conditions today are predicted to be similar to yesterday. "We got through yesterday," Mr Sutton said.

8.35 - Civil Defence Group Controller Roger Ball said, in day four of the fire being a state of emergency, there was no plan of it being lifted.

"The situation remains dynamic and changeable."

Threat to life and property remains, he said, with most of Wakefield evacuated.

More than 1000 properties in total have been evacuated. As a result, Mr Ball estimated, about 2500 people have left their homes.

As a precaution, remaining residents in Wakefield are asked to get ready to evacuate, he said.

8.25 - Residents in rural areas east of Wakefield who are outside the evacuation zone will have managed access from 8am to 6pm today.

The New Zealand Defence Fore will be running escorted convoys through the portion of SH6 that runs through Wakefield township. This will allow access through Wakefield for residents who would otherwise not be able to get past cordons on Eighty Eight Valley Rd, Totara Road, Church Valley Rd and Bridge Valley Road.

However, the highway remains closed for all other traffic. People are asked to continue to using the signposted detour through the Motueka Valley.

The escorted convoys will be running straight through the town with no stopping or diversions. They are not an opportunity for residents within the evacuation zone to check on property, Fire and Emergency NZ said in a statement.

There will be checkpoints at the South end of Wakefield and in the vicinity of Spring Grove for those needing to join the convoy. 

8.20 - The Pigeon Valley fire continued to burn actively overnight.

More than 100 personnel worked throughout the night to fight the fire and create a control line with fire breaks now right along the perimeter. There is still large amounts of unburnt vegetation within the control line.

Crews also remained at Walters Bluff overnight after a fire broke out around 3pm above Iwa Road yesterday. The fire is still under control and Fire and Emergency crews are there today monitoring. 

6.45 - Two community meetings have been set up for this morning - 9am at Appleby School, 28 Moutere Highway, and 11am at Hope Church, 114 Ranszau Road. The second meeting will focus mainly on Wakefield.

Civil Defence issued a notice for people to look out for neighbours, especially elderly, those in ill-health and people who live alone.

"Anxiety is very common during an emergency event such as an uncontrolled fire. This is a normal response to a very stressful situation. Talking to people and helping others can be both therapeutic and useful," the organsation said in a statement.

6.30 -  Specialist vet and animal rescue teams were out last night checking on animals on properties in the Redwood Valley area.

The Ministry for Primary Industries coordinated Animal Welfare efforts supported by SPCA and Massey University Veterinary Emergency Response Team.

The teams accessed properties under the supervision of police and Fire and Emergency NZ personnel. They checked animals for injuries and ensured they had access to sufficient water and feed for their immediate needs.

Controller Rob Smith acknowledged that everyone who had been evacuated was keen to get back and check on their homes and animals themselves.

“We had been working on a plan for managed, restricted access today but because of the change in fire conditions and the fresh evacuations, it wasn’t possible for us to allow people back to check on their own stock today," he said. "If conditions allow, we aim to be able to allow restricted residential access at the weekend and will advise residents directly if this will be possible.”

Anyone with concerns about animals in the fire area should phone MPI on 0800 008 333. Use the same number to report an animal in trouble or if you are worried about animals in the fire zone.