700 evacuated from New Zealand town as wildfire threatens

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About 700 residents are being evacuated from a New Zealand town as a forest fire threatens the area.

Civil defense authorities on Friday decided to evacuate parts of Wakefield on the South Island. Authorities opened up a sports stadium as a welfare center and said they can accommodate people who don’t have friends or family to stay with elsewhere.

Others in the town of 3,000 are waiting to hear if they will also be evacuated, and many are choosing to leave.

The wildfire has been burning since Tuesday and has spread to about 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres). It has burned down one house. Authorities believe it was started by sparks from farm equipment.

Other, smaller fires have also flared up in the dry region, including in the city of Nelson.