A fire started by a spark from a car crash raced across a farm paddock just west of Hastings yesterday.

The crash happened about 12.10pm when a car left a bend and took out two concrete fence posts and a short length of farm off Raukawa Rd, about 1.5km from the settlement of Bridge Pa.

It came soon after the southwest change forecast to bring winds of up to 120km/h overnight, and soon after emergency management officers had met in Hastings to prepare for the possibilities.

While the car was not badly damaged and was able to be driven away by its female driver, the fire raced across the thin, short and brown grass towards the driveway at the farm property Turamoe.


Three fire fighting units and three tankers, from the fire service and the Hastings District Council Rural Fire Authority, raced to the scene and while winds up to 15km were fanning the flames.

The firefighters were able to confine it to an area of about 150m x 100m. It stopped short of a hillside and some trees on the property. Firefighters, aware of the likely buildup of wind during the afternoon and evening, spent some time extinguishing smouldering embers and roots.

Council emergency management team leader Trevor Mitchell said it was a "good save".

With the temperature at 26C and the humidity 25 per cent, he said at the scene.

"As soon as the temperature gets above the level of humidity fire behaviour changes dramatically.

"We had a meeting this morning to see what we could be looking at in the next 24 hours, especially with what's happened in Christchurch and Marlborough over the last 24 hours," he said.

The MetService wind warning covered the area from Napier to Eketahuna, saying the winds "have potential to damage loose structures and make driving difficult."

Meanwhile, westerly winds gusting up to 90km/h kept a man in a dinghy from reaching shore for about an hour in the sea off Haumoana last night.


Senior Sergeant Karl Bauerfeind of the Eastern District Command Centre said a witness called police after watching the man struggle to row to shore, without making any headway, for about an hour.

He landed on the beach about 7.30pm before Hawke's Bay Coastguard arrived.