A state of emergency has been declared for the Hastings District as fires fanned by strong winds continue to burn across the region, claiming one house at Waimarama Rd.

Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said in a meeting this afternoon that there have been four fires today with the blaze at Waimarama still not under control.

"One house has been destroyed and other houses are threatened so it is a stage five fire. You cannot get higher than that."

Waimarama Rd which was used as a fire-break has since been re-opened and cars are able to get through the area.


The state of emergency was declared by the Hastings District Council and Hawke's Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group due to the lack of resources remaining and the combination of strong westerly winds, high temperatures and tinder dry conditions.

Mr Yule said there was fear that if one more fire broke out in the hot, windy conditions there would not be the resources to cope.

"We have had a whole series of fires in the last two weeks as powerlines are arcing on tinder dry grass and setting off grass fires. We are struggling to keep up with this."

The fire has taken all of the resources in Hawke's Bay so crews from Auckland, Tauranga and Tararua have come to assist and a special tactical unit of 12 tactical specialists from Wellington have also come to the region.

"Another 45 firefighters will also be here by 5pm today."

Two welfare centres have been set up with one at the Waimarama Hall and the other at the Havelock North Function Centre.

It is understood emergency services have also evacuated Craggy Range Rd properties as the fire headed north and into the pines.

One resident who was evacuated said they could see the chopper above the pines with monsoon buckets as they drove away from their home.

"It is pretty serious now it is in the pines but we have all packed up our valuables and are now in the village. We made sure our dog was with us too."

Prior to being evacuated residents along Craggy Range Rd parked their cars facing out of their driveways, while they hosed down the area around their houses.

Fire Service central communications shift manager Carlos Dempsey said four houses were under threat from the fire earlier today.

Late this morning one house was burnt down.

As at 11am the fire covered an area of 50 hectares, and Dempsey said this afternoon that there was a 1.5km flame front burning, and the fire had moved beyond the grassed paddocks to the forest further east.

Waimarama and Ocean Beach residents are being urged to conserve water with power turned off to Waimarama.

Mr Yule said the reservoir has a two day supply but with the power off the pump was not able to operate.

"We are taking a generator out there as soon as we physically can to allow the pump to operate but water is required for drinking purpose and fire fighting. We have to retain that reservoir at all costs."

Lines company Unison relationship manager Danny Gough said electricity to 707 properties in the wider fire area, turned off as a precaution, would remain off "for a while yet" until the fire service gave the okay.

"We are hopeful the network is okay," he said

Meanwhile another grass fire near Colin White Rd had burnt at least 270 hectares of land and residents of one house closest to the fire had self-evacuated.

This wildfire was being fought by Hawke's Bay rural crews plus crews from Auckland and Taranaki.

There are still hot spots and the combination of strong winds and high temperatures could challenge the perimeter.

Phone calls and door knocks had been conducted in the immediate area advising residents that the risk was low at this stage; but to be prepared with a carry bag holding essentials.

A fire reported at Endsleigh Rd this morning was now out while a fire south of Te Hauke was under control but still being monitored.

The Ripia River fire north-east of Puketitiri has burnt 87ha but is 90 per cent contained. Mr Yule said it was not fought today due to the severe winds and partial drizzle.

Members of the public were asked to avoid these areas until further notice.