Senior fire officials are considering putting a total fire ban in place across Northland after the cost of fighting two major scrub blazes racked up a six-figure bill.
In addition, a spate of rubbish fires have continued to be lit without a permit, particularly in the Far North district, despite a restricted fire season being in force since December 1.
The latest scrub fire, which burned 1ha of scrub in Taipa, took firefighters with the help of two helicopters just over four hours to put out at a cost of about $20,000.
Three fire trucks from Mangonui and one each from Kerikeri and Taupo Bay attended to the blaze on Ngatihine Rd, about 6.50pm on Tuesday.
Light winds meant firefighters could managed to control the fire by about 10pm.
Fire investigators identified where the blaze started but the cause was still being investigated.
Before that, about $200,000 was spent fighting a large scrub fire that burned for four days south of Kaikohe before it was temporarily brought under control last weekend.
Four helicopters, two bulldozers and 25 rural firefighters battled the fire, which burned between 60ha and 100ha of bush at Pipiwai Rd in Matawaia.
Crews from Kaikohe went back to the site yesterday morning and would continue monitoring it until there's significant rain.
Frustrated principal rural fire officer Myles Taylor said a total fire ban was being considered because most callouts were for unattended rubbish fires in the middle of the day when temperatures were at their peak.
"If people don't take responsibility for their actions, then we'll close the fire season by declaring a fire ban," Taylor said.
"Fire risk is the highest between 11am and 5pm, although most of the activities are undertaken around 3pm when relative humidity is at its lowest and the heat highest so people need to be very careful of any ignition sources.
"I understand at this time of the year people would want to dispose of their rubbish but they need to consider that the fire danger is elevated and if they are unsure, they should contact the fire service or hold off until conditions are favourable."
Taylor said no action has been taken against those caught burning rubbish without a permit because Fire and Emergency preferred to educate people on the dangers of lighting open fires in hot weather.
He said people also needed to understand their insurance companies might not cover any damage that resulted in fires which were deliberately lit.
A person convicted of lighting a fire in open air without a permit during restricted fire season can get up to two years in prison or a maximum fine of $300,000, or both.