A 15ha forest fire north of Napier will be left to burn overnight and firefighters will return at first light

Up to 65 firefighters have been at the fire near Tangoio Settlement Road, about 20km north of Napier, on Monday but most withdrew by 6.30pm due to windy, dangerous conditions. The large fire was one of at least eight in the region on Monday.

Trevor Mitchell, the principal rural fire officer for Hawke's Bay, said the terrain and conditions meant that the forest fire would be left to burn overnight.

Firefighters and aircraft could not fight the fire in darkness, and would withdraw on Monday night and return at first light.

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Mr Mitchell said the wind was expected to ease overnight.

Sunrise is forecast at about 5.50am on Tuesday. MetService was predicting westerlies to drop to as low as 20 knots overnight, after gusts of up to 100kmh today.

Strong winds had earlier forced ground crews to withdraw from fighting the large forest fire north of Napier and occupants of a house in the area had been evacuated as a precaution. The property would be monitored overnight.

Mr MItchell said the fire service urged people to not light fires, and to even check fires that had been lit months ago, as they could reignite in dry, windy weather.

"Check any old fires, that may have been lit ... even months ago, that they are not still smouldering away in the ash heap."

Six helicopters and one fix-winged aircraft had dumped water on the 15ha site believed to owned by Forest Management New Zealand, who have been approached for comment.

Fire and Emergency NZ spokesman Murray Dunbar said once air crews withdrew:

"There will be virtually no firefighting happening."

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The fire north of Napier was clearly visible from Haumoana. Photo / Paul Taylor
The fire north of Napier was clearly visible from Haumoana. Photo / Paul Taylor

At 5.30pm, appliances had been protecting a home in the area as a precaution and the occupants had evacuated the building.

Photo / Hayden Woodward
Photo / Hayden Woodward

At 2.40pm, another fire had broken out west of Hastings, at Fernhill near State Highway 50.

Five appliances and one tanker attended that blaze, which had threatened to spread to nearby properties before it was brought under control.

The northern front of the fire, near Tangoia Settlement Rd, about 3 km from SH2. Photo / Warren Buckland
The northern front of the fire, near Tangoia Settlement Rd, about 3 km from SH2. Photo / Warren Buckland

About 3.45pm, further north in Mohaka, two appliances, a tanker and a helicopter had battled a scrub fire, which at one stage threatened a property on West Beach Road.

Mason Summerfield, a witness to the Tangoio fire, said by 3.30pm ash had been starting to fall at their bach in nearby Waipatiki.

Earlier in the day he and his daughters Lucy and Harriet said they could see a lot of smoke, and smell the burning Tangoio forest.

Summerfield said the fire had looked quite far away, and he was not concerned about his property. He said the area around Waipatiki had had recent rain and was still fairly "green".

There are five helicopters battling the blaze. Photo / Warren Buckland
There are five helicopters battling the blaze. Photo / Warren Buckland

The fire was large enough smoke could be seen by the Japanese Meteorological Agency satellite, 36,000km above the Earth's surface.


A Pan Pac spokesperson said the fire had broken out on the border of its land.

"The fire started in Forest Management New Zealand forest, so it's right on our boundary.

"I haven't had an update recently whether its on our land yet or not, but we've got land at risk."

Smoke is spreading from the fire near Tangoio. Photo / Michelle Taiki
Smoke is spreading from the fire near Tangoio. Photo / Michelle Taiki

Another witness had told Hawke's Bay Today the fire was visible from Hardinge Rd, Ahuriri.

"The smoke is definitely spreading, it looks large."

The view of the fire from SH2,north of Hawke's Bay Airport. Photo / Warren Buckland
The view of the fire from SH2,north of Hawke's Bay Airport. Photo / Warren Buckland

MetService Meteorologist Lewis Ferris said while the wind, which gusted as strong as 196km/h at Hawke's Bay's Cape Turnagain on Sunday, would pull back from midnight, it would be unlikely to die out completely until Tuesday evening.

He said, while there were isolated showers forecast for Tuesday, there was no steady rain predicted which would help fight the blaze.

The blazes were among at least eight vegetation fires yesterday in Hawke's Bay, from Mohaka in the north to Porangahau in the south.

Ongaonga volunteers were called out at 7.07am, a prelude to a spate of fires from late in the morning, at 11am near Havelock North, to Poraiti, near Napier, at 11.35am, the Tangoio alarm at 11.43am, to at 2.31pm to Hope Rd, Mangaorapa (near Porangahau), Fernhill at 2.39pm. 2.45pm to Mohaka, and a tree fire in Taradale at 5.12pm.

A chopper armed with a monsoon bucket races toward the blaze. Photo/Warren Buckland
A chopper armed with a monsoon bucket races toward the blaze. Photo/Warren Buckland