A 4-ha fire suspected to have been started by a burnt-out car blazed for 24 hours before crews brought it under control late yesterday.

Principal rural fire officer Myles Taylor said the Karikari Peninsula scrub fire started about 5.30pm on Sunday and was fought using four helicopters, three on-the-ground crews and two bulldozers.

The latter worked to flatten containment lines around the blaze.

The fire is believed to have been started by a group who fled police in a stolen car on Sunday afternoon, ending the pursuit at Maitai Bay and setting the vehicle on fire before running off.


Kaitaia police Constable Dion Masters said police were pursuing the offenders using the "track my iPhone" function on a tourist's stolen cellphone.

When contacted yesterday morning, Mr Taylor said crews were still struggling to contain the blaze, but later in the day said the fire had finally been brought under control.

A definite cause of the blaze would likely be determined today, added Mr Taylor.