Two Far North families have been left homeless after their houses were destroyed in separate fires as calls were made for an early fire ban.
A house on the corner of Allen Bell Drive and Kitchener St in Kaitaia was gutted following a suspicious fire about 7pm on Tuesday.
It was just down the road from the home of Cabinet minister Kelvin Davis. "I feel really sad for the homeowners and occupants and hope everyone is all right," he said last night.
Then, about 12.30pm yesterday, a home on Kumi Rd in Awanui was destroyed in a blaze.
Senior fire risk management officer Gary Beer spent yesterday investigating both scenes and said the fires meant two families had lost their homes within 24 hours.
"It's very, very sad," he said.
Beer said he was satisfied the Allen Bell Drive fire had started in a small room off the kitchen and he could not find any accidental cause.
He had found no evidence of accelerants and has handed the inquiry over to the police.
"I can't rule out that it was deliberately lit," he said.
"Nor can I rule out that fireworks might have been involved. There was evidence of fireworks around the property, but it's hard to tell how old they were."
When the fire broke out there were initially concerns that the woman and two children who lived at the address might have been inside as one neighbour said she had heard the woman shouting at the children, followed by silence, but they had escaped unharmed.
They had been at home, according to police, but got out of the house, either before the fire - which quickly spread through the house - started or before it took hold.
Three Kaitaia Fire Brigade appliances and a crew from Ahipara attended, while two St John ambulances were on standby.
Beer said the Awanui fire was not being treated as suspicious.
Kaitaia fire chief Craig Rogers said four crews from the station also attended the Awanui blaze.
He said when they arrived at the property the house was totally engulfed in flames - from end to end.
"There wasn't much we could do to save it," he said.
"It's very sad. It's never nice seeing people's properties destroyed."
Beer said people need to ensure they had a water source at their property. Crews fighting the Awanui fire had to return to town to top up their water supplies from a fire hydrant.
Authorities were understood to be considering imposing early fire bans or restrictions in the Far North.
Rogers said crews had been busy over the last week with a number of out of control burnoffs and hoped a fire ban would be introduced "soon rather than later".
"It's drier than people think," he said.
Far North brigades responded to at least nine fires over the 10 days but the issue is widespread across Northland.
Warren Marshall, Ruakākā Volunteer Fire Brigade station officer, also said there had been an increase in calls to out of control burnoffs over the last three weeks, including one in Takahiwai which was left unattended.
He said he believed people were trying to get in before a fire ban came into play.
"We're experiencing high temperatures and it's only yet to increase. And it's dry, there's not enough rain out there at the moment," he said.
"You need to think about what you're lighting, have you got a plan in place, are you on site, is there water available?"