Fire and Emergency has been inundated with calls about a fire in a hedge between businesses in the Bethlehem Town Centre and a retirement village.
A spokeswoman said the fire was reported at 4.12pm as being in a hedge next to a building.
The hedge and a nearby car were on fire.
There were no reports of damage to buildings but "lots of calls" came in about the blaze.
A reporter at the scene said the hedge fire was out but a section of it about 5 meters high and 10m wide was burned.
The bonnet of a car parked in front of it was also severely burnt.
Firefighters were hosing down the car and hedge.
A retirement village was on the other side of the hedge and firefighters were also checking that out.
A worker in the area told the Bay of Plenty Times a large hedge behind the Chemist Warehouse store was on fire and a car parked near the hedge was also alight.
He said the hedge appeared "tinder dry" and the fire was travelling down it.
"The flames are at the height of the lamppost."
He said firefighters were getting the blaze under control.
Many people were standing around watching and taking photos and videos.
A retirement village resident said she saw flames "twice as high as the roof" and heard a "loud bang".
She said the flames got close to the houses and could have been a lot worse.
A young man said he had just finished work in the shopping center and he saw the flames over the roof of the building.
He came around to the back and saw the hedge on fire and said the fire was "huge".
A woman who lives on a hill nearby said she could see the flames from her house, about 500 meters away.
She was making a cup of tea when she saw the fire and she was "so nervous I had to run to the loo".
She said she initially thought it was one of the houses in the retirement village.