Fire in Far North no longer a threat to homes

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The fire started at Matai Bay on the Karikari Peninsula about 10pm on Saturday and had burnt an estimated 10 hectares before fire crews using three helicopters brought it under control. Photo / Google
The fire started at Matai Bay on the Karikari Peninsula about 10pm on Saturday and had burnt an estimated 10 hectares before fire crews using three helicopters brought it under control. Photo / Google

Firefighters remain at the scene of a massive scrub fire that broke out on New Year's Eve and threatened a DoC campground and houses.

Fire Service northern communications shift manager Jaron Phillips said fire crews were headed back to Matai Bay in the Far North at daybreak.

A skeleton crew had patrolled the lingering fire overnight.

The fire, which has burned through 10ha of scrub was now under control.

The blaze is thought to have been caused by a stray firework.

The fire started near the end of the Karikari Peninsula at about 10pm on December 31.

Kaitaia fire chief Colin Kitchen said eight fire crews from Mangonui, Kaitaia, Kerikeri and Rangiputa initially responded to the call-out but had to pull out as it was too dangerous to fight the blaze at that time.

The crews went back yesterday morning and with help from three helicopters using monsoon buckets were able to extinguish the fire that had burned up to the road.

He said two homes had to be evacuated but people staying at the DoC campground remained.

Kitchen said the source of the fire was still being investigated but said there were a lot of fireworks around the place on Saturday night as holidaymakers welcomed the New Year.

He cautioned people against lighting fires or setting off fireworks anywhere in the Far North.

"It's very dry and with an influx of people to the Far North, people need to be careful around campsites and fireworks. It's a restricted fire season which means they need a permit before lighting fires."

Meanwhile, another scrub fire that started at about 5pm in Peria, south of Doubtless Bay, was brought under control on December 31.

The fire burned about 8ha but no houses were in danger.

Emergency services across the North were kept busy with dozens of other incidents on New Year's Eve.

Apart from the two pedestrian deaths and major blazes at Karikari Peninsula, Peria and Pataua, other call-outs for volunteer firefighters included a scrub fire in Haruru Falls, a car crashed into a bank at Maromaku, a fire in the ceiling cavity of a bach at Opononi, and a suspected stolen car set alight at Karikari Peninsula.

At about 6.20pm on Saturday St John Ambulance and Kerikeri Fire Brigade were called to Purerua Peninsula, north of Kerikeri, after a dune buggy rolled. Two people were taken to hospital with moderate injuries.

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