Four helicopters and more than two dozen firefighters are still battling to bring a massive fire under control in the Far North.

The fire started late Thursday afternoon on the Karikari Peninsula when a single-car crash brought down power lines that set fire to scrub, sparking a huge fire that at one point threatened homes at Tokerau Beach.

The female driver and sole occupant of the car was taken to Kaitaia Hospital by ambulance with what police believed to be a non-life-threatening head injury.

The car had been travelling north on Inland Rd at about 5.30pm when it apparently crossed the centre line, demolished a concrete power pole, rolled and came to rest on its wheels just off Ramp Rd, 50 metres from the pole.

Advertisement

READ MORE:
Swarm of fires as restrictions imposed across Northland
Northland: Fire could smoulder in sawdust pile for months

A digger is used to create a fire break near Ramp Rd on Thursday night. Photo / supplied
A digger is used to create a fire break near Ramp Rd on Thursday night. Photo / supplied

The Mangonui Fire Brigade was called to the fire sparked by the downed power lines, but it quickly got out of control.

Crews from Kaitaia, Karikari, Houhora and Rangiputa were subsequently called, while three helicopters fought the flames from the air until it was too dark to continue flying.

All three machines were back in the air at 5.45am on Friday, a fourth, which had originally been on standby, joining them a little later in the morning.

By that time the fire had veered a little to the south, turning away from the nearest house at the end of Ramp Rd, although firefighters had already adopted 'structure protection' measures, including calling in earthmoving machinery to cut a major firebreak around the western-most house.

Campervans evacuate a freedom camping area near Ramp Rd on Thursday evening. Photo / Francis Malley
Campervans evacuate a freedom camping area near Ramp Rd on Thursday evening. Photo / Francis Malley

Meanwhile emergency services and Ramp Rd residents agreed at 4.40am on Friday that some homes should be evacuated as a precaution.

Some people had already self-evacuated, Senior Sergeant Russell Richards said, adding that he commended those who had taken a sensible approach to protecting themselves.

"Most of the people who were still there were pretty much packed up and ready to go, so everyone was out within about 20 minutes," he said.

Advertisement

The fire did not appear to be moving quickly on Thursday evening, although Principal Rural Fire Officer Myles Taylor said on Friday morning that there had been "a couple of big runs" overnight.

The blaze has so far swept through about 80ha of scrub and wetland. Photo / Fire and Emergency NZ
The blaze has so far swept through about 80ha of scrub and wetland. Photo / Fire and Emergency NZ

By 6am today the helicopters appeared to have the eastern front under control, taking water from Lake Rotopotaka (Coca Cola Lake), just metres from where the blaze was at its most threatening.

There were still concerns at that stage that the flames could jump the road to the lake, and again threaten homes, although those concerns were easing.

At that stage the fire was still burning uncontrolled along the southern flank, although not appearing to be spreading at a significant rate.

Firefighters said it would run out of fuel when it reached farm land north of SH10 but a corridor of scrub could potentially see it burn as far east as Aurere.

With access for ground crews difficult, the southern flank was the second priority for the helicopters, once the fire was contained in the east.

Taylor estimated the fire had covered 80ha as of Friday morning.