Northland fire authorities are seriously considering prosecuting those who light fires despite knowing of the total fire ban across the region.
Principal Rural Fire Officer Myles Taylor said he had been seeking advice from Fire and Emergency New Zealand in Wellington regarding what action could be taken.
That came after a rubbish fire in Whangārei, lit by a repeat offender, and a scrub fire that covered some 3ha at Paparore, not far from the marae, on Friday afternoon, where the ban had been "blatantly disregarded."
The Kaitaia Fire Brigade, which was supported on Friday by two helicopters, attended an identical fire in precisely the same location earlier this summer.
Mr Taylor said those responsible in both cases were being considered for prosecution.
"Prosecution is one of the tools in our tool box, and if people are not willingly complying with the restrictions, then we'll look at prosecution to change behaviours," he said.
He preferred to educate rather than prosecute, but the message wasn't getting through.
Three helicopters were needed Pataua South on Saturday afternoon, where 2ha of scrub was destroyed. It seemed that children playing with matches near the beach might have been responsible. but the investigation was ongoing.
The Kaitaia Fire Brigade was called to Te Kao on Saturday afternoon, where a fire burned about a hectare of grass before it was brought under control, Chief Fire Officer Craig Rogers saying at one stage it had got into trees not far from the school.
Mr Taylor said conditions around the region were being monitored on an hourly basis, and, with the help of computer modelling, an emergency plan had been put in place, including having four helicopters ready to respond at all times.
"There are forestry crews on standby, ready for rapid deployment, an incident management team and incident controllers ready to fly in helicopters," he said.
"The contingency plan is in place; hopefully we won't need it, and with the help of the public we won't."
"With the tinder-dry conditions it's possible we will get a running fire, and it will be extremely hard to stop and extinguish."
As of late last week Northland Fire and Emergency crews had responded to at least 100 preventable fires since the start of the year.