A North Canterbury resident says they have been warned to stay on the alert for flare-ups for the next two weeks after a fire destroyed nearby homes.

On Friday, January 19, a fire ripped across 12 hectares in Loburn, North Canterbury, damaging vegetation and sheds, and destroying three homes.

Di Hawkins’ home and business are both in Loburn; she is the co-owner of Karikaas Natural Dairy Products.

She and her husband were at home when they smelt smoke.

They went outside to investigate and could see splashes of flames by their caravan and garage.

They followed the sound of crackling up to the main road and across the road could see the hedge behind their neighbour’s property was in flames, and that the fire was growing.

“I bolted inside to get my phone, came back out, and by the time I came back out, and we’re talking about half a minute, her place — Steph’s place, you couldn’t see because there was so much smoke,” Hawkins said.

“When she [Steph] drove out she was tooting her horn and flashing lights because she was driving out blind, out between flames to get out of her driveway.”

The home opposite Hawkins was a restored former church, which has now been completely razed. All that remains is a few pieces of the white picket fence and garden decorations.

At the time they were too busy to be scared, but they have had a few teary moments since thinking about how close they came to losing their home and business too, Hawkins said

She said Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) held a training evaluation exercise in the area on Monday, and advised them that if the recent very hot windy weather continued they could continue to be at risk of the fire re-sparking for the next fortnight or so.

Everyone in the community was devastated by the fire damage, she said.

When they opened on Monday they had a steady stream of locals popping into the Karikaas shop to check in on them, and offer support and hugs, Hawkins said.

Cars burnt out following a fire in Loburn, North Canterbury.

FENZ said investigations into the origin and cause of all three vegetation fires that occurred in North Canterbury over the weekend were ongoing.

The Waimakariri District Council today announced it has opened a Mayoral Relief Fund for people or businesses who want to donate to help people affected by the fire.

The council said the donations would go directly to residents who lost their homes and had their properties damaged because of the fires over the weekend.