A grass embankment at Bayfair Shopping Centre caught fire this afternoon, endangering four vehicles.

A Fire and Emergency northern communications spokeswoman said firefighters were called to a small grass fire at the shopping centre in Mount Maunganui just before 3.30pm.

About 20m of a grass embankment in the "new part" of the shopping centre had caught fire.

Four vehicles parked next to where the fire had broken out were in danger but had since been moved from the scene, the spokeswoman said.

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The Mount Maunganui Fire Brigade was called to the scene and had since extinguished the blaze.

Joel Waetford was at Bayfair when he witnessed the grass on fire.

Waetford said he and other shoppers ran over with what water they had to help try and put out the fire before firefighters arrived.

He said a van-load of touch rugby boys also stopped to help put out the fire by emptying their water bottles.

"The touch nationals are in Whakatāne this weekend, so possibly they were stopping on the way through," he said.

Waetford said it was lucky three cars parked near the fire were able to be moved.