The fire danger in Hawke's Bay is soaring to extreme levels with some of the hottest temperatures of the summer and a month without significant rain in many areas.
As well as soaring temperatures, the region has seen a succession of grass and scrub fires.
After a week in which forecast rain for the Napier-Hastings area failed to show, temperatures hit a peak of close to 32C on Saturday, and eased slightly yesterday with the arrival of northeasterlies off the sea mid-afternoon.
But forecasts are for high temperatures today and tomorrow, with some rain predicted for Wednesday.
According to national weather agency MetService, Napier had the highest temperature in the country on Saturday at 31.3C, although a Wairoa weather station posted a maximum of 31.9C, which compared with 33.3C at the same station on January 5.
Temperatures eased a little yesterday, for although Napier was again the hottest site in the country about 10.15am, with a temperature of 27.6C, the mantle was assumed by Christchurch where the temperature mid-afternoon was over 31C.
The temperatures brought thousands out for major events such as the Wairoa A&P Show on Saturday and yesterday's Waimarama beach day, and the Upper Mohaka rodeo about 100km away near Te Haroto.
The risks coming in the big dry were highlighted in a series of fires.
A grass fire raged in Ron Giorgi Park, Flaxmere, yesterday afternoon, edging close to the park's fence line and the houses beyond.
A local resident said she witnessed her neighbours keeping the fire at bay with their garden hose before the fire brigade arrived about 4.20pm. It scorched an area of the park about 40m long.
Hastings fire brigade station officer Craig Parsons said the fire was being treated as suspicious. "There's been two or three [fires] in that area in the last couple of weeks."
Another fire kept firefighters busy for almost two hours on a riverbank near Hastings on Saturday.
Fire Service spokesman Mike Wanoa said a vehicle fire at the riverbank end of Carrick Rd, Twyford, established a blaze which spread about 200m near the banks of the Ngaruroro River, near Hastings. The Fire Service was called at 11.13am on Saturday, with two Fire Service crews from Hastings and one from Napier being joined by Heretaunga Rural Fire crews and a tanker.
The vehicle had been abandoned and police were advised.
The Fire Service and rural teams joined forces later in the day when fire spread over about 400sqm off Higbee Rd, Bridge Pa.
On Friday evening, Napier firefighters went to a fire on the banks of the Tutaekuri River near Taradale, another fire was reported upstream and off Omarunui Rd early on Saturday morning, while fire burnt another abandoned car near the Chesterhope Bridge over the Ngaruroro River, north of Hastings, early yesterday. The last significant rain in the Napier-Hastings area was on December 17-18.