Two helicopters and ground crews were used to control a blaze that ripped through 5ha of scrub, illustrating clearly how high the fire risk is in Northland.

A plume of smoke billowed above the land at Pautaua South just before 11am yesterday as a fire to burn some scrub clearings got out of control and raced through vegetation on two properties.

A plume of smoke billows above the land at Pataua South after a permitted fire raced through scrub. Photo / Supplied
A plume of smoke billows above the land at Pataua South after a permitted fire raced through scrub. Photo / Supplied

Deputy principal rural fire officer Clinton Lyall said helicopters from Kerikeri flew to the property, bordering Taiharuru River, which became the water source when the choppers arrived, with the fire well involved.

"Someone had been clearing scrub and gorse and decide to burn it, and it got away on them in the wind which was blowing. It really took off," Lyall said.

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Whangārei Heads and Onerahi volunteer brigades sent a crew each and ensured the fire did not creep through grass and endanger buildings, while the two helicopter crews doused the flames.

Volunteer fire crews protected buildings at the property from the blaze. Photo / Supplied
Volunteer fire crews protected buildings at the property from the blaze. Photo / Supplied

Just this week the Far North and Kaipara districts moved to a restricted fire season, meaning all of Northland is now in a restricted fire season and a permit is required to light a fire in the open air.

Lyall said the property owner had got a fire permit but had not adhered to the conditions.

"Even though people are issued with a permit they must read through it and make sure they understand it all. Don't hesitate to make contact if it's not clear."

He said yesterday's fire burned quick and clean and clearly illustrated just how much dry fuel there still was in Northland.

"The ground is still dry regardless of the recent rain we have had. It's still a drought and people shouldn't forget that in amongst Covid-19."

A specialist ground crew was called to the Pataua South property late yesterday and were to scour the fringes for hotspots. They were expected there again today to do a final hotspot inspection.

Principal rural fire officer Myles Taylor said permit applications would be looked at on a case by case basis but during level 3 officials were unable to conduct site visits which meant it may take longer than usual for permit applications to be processed.

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"We ask that you continue to hold off lighting any non-essential outdoor fires so firefighters don't have to respond to a preventable call.

"Even if the fire is under control, the smoke often results in 111 calls from well-meaning members of the public and means firefighters need to leave their bubbles unnecessarily," Taylor said.

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