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Firefighters continued to work in shifts fighting a large blaze near Wairoa as the temperature dropped and light drizzle fell last night.

More than 140ha of forest and scrub has been burned, along with several buildings near Mahia Beach, as a result of the fire which started on Sunday afternoon.

A hundred firefighters and three helicopters battled the blaze, which had been brought under control last night, but still posed a risk with wind shifts potentially sparking it up again and turning it towards housing.

"They're (firefighters) quite concerned that there might be a wind shift that would send the fire towards Mahia settlement," Department of Conservation firefighters spokeswoman Jill Hudson said.

Dozens of people were evacuated from their homes on Monday but it was understood some were able to return last night

Jocelyn Zame, from the Mahia Beach Motel and Holiday Park, said last night there was light drizzle and it had cooled off. From about 3km away, no flames were visible and the fire looked like it was under control.

She said accommodation had been booked out by fire fighters from out of town, who were either tending to the fire or catching up on sleep.

Firefighters and others involved in fighting the blaze had set up at the local golf club and were being looked after and fed by locals.

Kaiwaitau Road resident Pua Taumata told the Hawke's Bay Today newspaper he had evacuated following advice from police.

It was a "bloody shame" the fire had happened the day before school started again, he said.

Another resident, from Mahanga Rd, was getting out as her children were getting "freaky" and did not want to stay.

Those who had evacuated had set up at the former Opoutama School, which can now be used for accommodation.

Wairoa District Council is due to move the area to a total fire ban today

- NZPA