A Wellington firebug will spend nearly two years behind bars after setting rubbish bins alight across the city.

Robert Mackie has been sentenced to 22 months in prison at the Wellington District Court today, for one charge of arson and one of unlawfully entering a building.

He'd previously pleaded guilty to setting rubbish bins and a piece of clothing on fire during a drunken night out in the city in October last year.

Judge Peter Hobbs said it was fortunate the damage was limited to the rubbish bins.

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He said there was a risk of more significant damage, and risk of harm to the properties' occupants and fire brigade.

After lighting the fires, Mackie entered a Mount Victoria flat occupied by three women, and helped himself to chili beans from a pot sitting on the stove.

Judge Hobbs said the women barricaded themselves in a room and called police.

When officers turned up they found Mackie in a wardrobe and arrested him.

Mackie will be subject to special release conditions following his sentence, including undertaking alcohol and drug treatment and living at an address the court agrees to.