Northlanders are being urged to pay close attention to wind conditions before lighting fires as a wildfire in South Hokianga enters its fourth day.
Firefighters are expected to be still dampening down today at the scene of a blaze which started about 1.30pm on Wednesday in bush and old pines near Koutu Loop Rd.
Northland principal rural fire officer Myles Taylor said the fire had covered about 5ha in a ''nasty piece of bush'' with old, unthinned pines and hazards such as dead branches caught up in trees. As the fire burned down into the tree roots the risks increased.
It was too dangerous to send in ground crews so firefighters had cut a fire break and were sending in a helicopter with a monsoon bucket any time the wind picked up and fanned the blaze back to life.
Three helicopters were deployed for the first two days; yesterday that was down to one chopper along with a digger and a forestry crew.
A house near the edge of the fire was not threatened but firefighters were monitoring it closely.
The fire appeared to have been deliberately lit but that had yet to be confirmed. The investigation was continuing, Taylor said.
The typically strong November winds were also catching out people starting burn-offs without checking the conditions.
''People seem oblivious to the wind. So many controlled burns are getting out of control because people aren't paying attention to the wind.''
He expected some rain early next week but it would not be enough to reduce the fire danger. Fire restrictions would have to be imposed shortly, he said.
The most fire-prone parts of the Far North —including the Aupouri and Karikari peninsulas and the area north of Kaitaia-Awaroa Rd — are subject to year-round restrictions.