More Far North landowners could be hit with firefighting bills running into thousands of dollars after a yet another rash of illegal fires.
Three fires - on Ngapipito Rd near Moerewa, Orakau Rd, Matawaia, and Matene Rd, Punakitere Valley - were lit within just over two hours on Wednesday afternoon, sending firefighters scrambling across the Mid North.
Northern principal rural fire chief Myles Taylor said two helicopters and two appliances were dispatched when firefighters responding to a rubbish fire on Ngapipito Rd spotted smoke from another blaze at Orakau Rd.
One of the pilots then saw smoke from an illegal burnoff at Matene Rd, which was extinguished by two ground crews and a helicopter using a monsoon bucket.
A crew stayed at Matene Rd overnight and 16 forestry workers continued mopping up yesterday. Mr Taylor said he knew who had started the unpermitted, unattended fire, which was in an area with a lot of valuable forestry. The landowner is likely to face significant costs.
The person who lit the Orakau Rd fire managed to put it out once he realised helicopters and fire appliances were on the way, limiting his costs.
Fire starters failed to appreciate their actions also carried a social cost. Each blaze involved eight or nine volunteer firefighters, whose employers lost out each time they were called out.
Mr Taylor was not convinced by anyone who claimed to be unaware of the fire danger or restrictions.
"They all know and they all say, 'Am I going to get a bill for this?' The simple answer is 'Yes, you probably will'."