A volunteer Wairoa firefighter who was called out to help fight several scrub fires early on Saturday returned to the station just before dawn to find his car had been broken into and more than $6000 of fishing gear taken.
He was pretty upset," Wairoa Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Grant Duley.
"He's out working, fighting fires, and this happens."
Mr Duley suspected a group of kids walking past may have spotted that one rear window was slightly ajar, and forced it open.
"When we got back the door was open and his gear was all gone."
Among the items taken was a "Torpedo' device, a motorised kontiki line.
As well, a female volunteer returned to her home after more than three hours helping putting out grass and scrub fires to be told by her mother that their dog had disturbed someone going on to the property, possibly believing no one had been at home.
The Wairoa volunteer crew were alerted around 2am by the Nuhaka and Mahia brigades who had been called to a string of deliberately lit fires along roadsides in the Mahia and Mahanga areas.
"They had got a bit stretched and called us for help," Mr Duley said.
"There were several little fires along the roadsides and quite a large one at Mahanga as well as at the old camping ground at Blue Bay, there had been three or four lit in there."
Mr Duley said it appeared whoever started the fires would have driven along the roads and stopped every now and then and used something like a lighter to spark the fires.
While no properties had been at risk some fence posts had been destroyed.
"It's getting pretty dry up this way, so it's not good," Mr Duley said.
Firefighters got a couple of later calls to return to dampen down hotspots which re-ignited.
"We had a series of fires around Raupunga a while back and now we get this," Wairoa Police Senior Sergeant Tony Bates said.
"These fires always have the potential to spread so if anyone sees anyone parked up at the side of a road, acting suspiciously, take the registration number and give us a call straight away."
Mr Bates said anyone who knew who had been lighting the fires could call anonymously on Crimestoppers 0800 555111.
He said police also wanted to hear from anyone being offered fishing equipment, including the Torpedo line device.
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