Image: seattletimes.comMore than 1,000 people have been forced to flee their homes as wildfires threaten homes in New Zealand’s third-largest city.

The fire in the Port Hills district of Christchurch began earlier this week and was thought to have been started by an electrical problem.

It spread rapidly overnight on Wednesday to cover more than 1,800 hectares.

A state of emergency has been declared and Prime Minister Bill English has arrived in the city to monitor the situation

The Fire Service has 40 crews with 45 pumps and tankers and there are 26 rural fire crews with more than 200 personnel fighting to contain the blaze. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has also offered to send help.

Christchurch City Council has already said that 11 homes and two sheds had been lost to the flames, although the situation was “constantly changing”.