Firefighters in the Far North are urging communities to take the fire prohibition more seriously after fighting more than 100 blazes so far this year.
Northland has been covered by a prohibited fire season since the start of the year. But Principal Rural Fire Officer Myles Taylor said Fire and Emergency New Zealand crews had responded to more than 100 preventable fires in the Far North since the prohibited season was announced.
This week Northland was declared a drought zone after no rain for months and little sign of any on the horizon, which will just make the region even drier.
Level 4 water restrictions - the toughest possible, meaning only use water for essential purposes - have been imposed in Kaikohe, Kaitaia and parts of the Kaipara.
"When the region is tinder dry, small fires can easily become out of control, and our crews are regularly being called to fires that should never have been lit in the first place," Taylor said.
"In particular we're heading to out-of-control rubbish fires. It seems like some in our communities are choosing to blatantly ignore the risks."
That, he said, was unacceptable, and was putting communities, forests and Department of Conservation land in danger.
"Over the weekend preventable fires were to blame for the loss of three caravans, while several houses were also threatened," Taylor said.
"We're imploring our communities to keep a watchful eye out for irresponsible fire-lighting. If you see someone looking to light a rubbish fire or burning off, please ask them not to, or talk to them about alternative ways to dispose of rubbish or unwanted material.
"I want to make everyone aware how dangerous lighting fires in conditions like we currently have in the Far North can be."