Northland's Principal Rural Fire officer, Myles Taylor, is considering imposing a total fire ban across the region after two major scrub blazes racked up a six-figure bill.
Rubbish fires were also being lit on a regular basis, without permits, particularly in the Far North, despite the restricted fire season that took effect on December 1, Mr Taylor said last week.
Tuesday night's scrub fire at Taipa Point, where two helicopters supported ground crews, cost around $20,000 to extinguish, while an earlier blaze south of Kaikohe, which burned for four days, cost around $200,000. Four helicopters, two bulldozers and 25 rural firefighters battled that fire.
Crews from Kaikohe returned to the scene last week, and were expected to continue monitoring it until there was significant rain.
Mr Taylor said a total fire ban was being considered because most calls were to unattended rubbish fires in the middle of the day, when temperatures were at their highest.
"If people don't take responsibility for their actions, then we'll close the fire season by declaring a ban," he 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. If they are unsure, they should contact the fire service or hold off until conditions are favourable," Mr Taylor said.
No action had been taken against those caught burning rubbish without a permit so far because Fire and Emergency preferred to educate people on the dangers of lighting open fires in hot weather.
He warned, however, that insurance companies might not cover any damage that resulted from deliberately lit fires.
The maximum penalty for lighting a fire in open air without a permit during a restricted fire season is two years' imprisonment and/or a $300,000 fine.