A large forest fire north of Napier that was at one stage burning over 350ha of land has been bought under control after an air and ground blitz by firefighters.

At 5pm on Tuesday Fire and Emergency New Zealand confirmed firefighters had contained the blaze, but it was not yet extinguished.

Two crews would be patrolling the area on Tuesday night and a drone would be used to monitor hotspots.

Evacuated homeowners have been allowed to return to their properties.

Advertisement

Earlier on Tuesday Trevor Mitchell, the principal rural fire officer for Hawke's Bay, said they were making "really good progress".

It started mid-morning on Monday in hills to the east beyond Tangoio Marae, 24km north of Napier, within the area bound by Tangoio Settlement Rd loop and SH2, mainly towards Tangoio Settlement Rd as it was fanned by the westerly.

Crews, who were stood down on Monday night, started in the morning from the outside edges of a rapidly expanding fire and had since controlled the edges and been able to work their way in, he said.

"We have got 15 per cent of the fire from the first strip from Tangoio Settlement Rd under control," he said.

The crew of 70 firefighters are working 12-hour days, in two shifts, with the day crew starting at 7am and finishing between 6 and 7pm.

Eight helicopters with monsoon buckets are on site, but planes tasked with pouring fire retardant on the fire had been stood down.

Mitchell said it was a good sign of progress" but "some areas are still too difficult and dangerous for crew to be on the ground" and work on the fire would continue into tomorrow.

Seven helicopters including a supervisory helicopter are involved in the fire fight. Photo / Warren Buckland
Seven helicopters including a supervisory helicopter are involved in the fire fight. Photo / Warren Buckland
These photos were taken from the top of the first hill on Waipatiki Rd in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Photo / Hori Reti
These photos were taken from the top of the first hill on Waipatiki Rd in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Photo / Hori Reti

The cause of the fire is not known at this stage and will only be determined after fire investigators have carried out an investigation.

Advertisement

The fire has stopped burning on Pan Pac land, with a total of 200ha of five-year-old trees lost in the Shinoda Forest, CEO Doug Ducker said on Tuesday at 1pm.

The forest is 700ha in total. There are still hotspots in the area, and it is likely work to control these will continue for several days.

Forty Pan Pac personal were involved in fire-fighting efforts. The exact financial impact was unknown at this stage.

The fire is still burning on Forest Management New Zealand land, which Hawke's Bay Today understands is a more mature forest, and where the fire is thought to have started.

There are two planes fighting the Waipatiki forest fire, using flame retardant to help extinguish it. Photo / Warren Buckland
There are two planes fighting the Waipatiki forest fire, using flame retardant to help extinguish it. Photo / Warren Buckland

Those on Hardinge Rd in Ahuriri watched the flames burn throughout the night, with a clear view across the water.

Mitchell said the fire hadn't crossed any roads overnight, with State Highway 2 still "miles away" from the flames.

He and Hawke's Bay Civil Defence advised people to keep off Tangoio Settlement Rd until further notice.

"No rubberneckers," Civil Defence's post on Facebook read.

"There are dozens of fire trucks and water tankers using the narrow windy road.

"Please don't come onto the road to have a look - you will get in the way as the teams work hard to put out the fire. All travel to Waipatiki should be delayed until further notice if at all possible."

There was a roadblock set up near to where a house on the road was evacuated on Monday.

The northern front of the fire off Tangoio Settlement Rd north of Napier. Photo / Warren Buckland
The northern front of the fire off Tangoio Settlement Rd north of Napier. Photo / Warren Buckland

Mitchell said the fire would likely be an issue for a few days until they got a full perimeter around it.

Heavy machinery was building containment lines around the fire on Tuesday morning.

Seven helicopters, including a supervisory helicopter, were on the scene to help with extinguishing the fire, a fire communications spokesman said.

The helicopters were using water buckets filled from dams, created by forestry companies in the area, to quench the fire.

A Hawke's Bay Today reporter on the scene said helicopters were effectively "queuing up" for water about 10am, before making rapid trips from a base set up just off Tangoio Settlement Rd.

The dams are being topped up with water tankers, with half a dozen water tankers involved.

There are also two planes using flame retardant to help extinguish the fire.

FIVE MORE FIRE CALLOUTS OVERNIGHT IN HAWKE'S BAY

After eight fires started on Monday, there were a further five fire callouts across Hawke's Bay overnight and into this morning.

A vegetation fire near Te Haroto was responded to by crews from Hawke's Bay and Taupo about 1.41am on Tuesday.

The fire off Tangoio Settlement Road north of Napier on Monday. Photo / Warren Buckland
The fire off Tangoio Settlement Road north of Napier on Monday. Photo / Warren Buckland

A fire communications spokesperson confirmed that the blaze took over an area of trees and grass approximately 50 metres by 30 metres.

There was then a fire at a beach in Clive at around 6.04am, a rubbish fire near the Napier suburb of Marewa about 6.45am.

Less than an hour later, firefighters received reports of a chair on fire in a house in Hastings.

A post was then reported smouldering after Monday fires near Dannevirke, about 7.44am on Tuesday.

Firefighters were also fighting a blaze just off Speedy Side Rd in Central Hawke's Bay.

Firefighters received reports of the fire about 11.20am on Tuesday.

A Fire and Emergency spokesperson said two appliances, a rural unit and a tanker were attending the fire, which was 50 by 100 metres in size.

MANAWATU FIREFIGHTERS LEND A HAND

Ken Cooper, fire and emergency area commander for Hawke's Bay, said the conditions were testing but firefighters were not stretched to the limit, yet.

"There are more than 900 firefighters in Hawke's Bay so we have good resources.

"For the Tangoio fire we have two crews from Manawatu, with 10 firefighters, helping out."

Firefighters are advising the public to stay off the road to Waipatiki unless they urgently need to use it. Photo / Warren Buckland
Firefighters are advising the public to stay off the road to Waipatiki unless they urgently need to use it. Photo / Warren Buckland

He said getting crews from Manawatu freed up the brigade to attend "business as normal" incidents.

Pan Pac also had 20 contractors helping extinguish the fire, he said.

Cooper said the conditions in Hawke's Bay were, at present, "extreme".

"Yesterday we had two incidents which were caused by powerlines sparking.

"The wind causes issues. Any ignition source could spark a fire.

"Our advice is if you see smoke, call 111."

MONDAY'S TREACHEROUS CONDITIONS

Most firefighters withdrew from the fire on Monday by 6.30pm due to windy and dangerous conditions.

By 9.30pm the fire had spread to 140ha and one house had been evacuated as a precaution.

Mitchell 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, he said.

Winds have eased this morning but while isolated showers are forecast today there will not be any steady rain.

READ MORE
Hawke's Bay forest fire: Fire crews will let it burn overnight and start again at first light
Australia's extreme fires signal grim warning for New Zealand
More NZ firefighters heading to Australia to help battle bush fires

A shot of the Waipatiki Forest fire from Hill Rd around 11.45pm on Monday. Photo / Aubrey McBrayer
A shot of the Waipatiki Forest fire from Hill Rd around 11.45pm on Monday. Photo / Aubrey McBrayer

A separate grass fire that broke out in Fernhill, Hawke's Bay on Monday was extinguished. Police asked motorists to avoid State Highway 50 as choking smoke covered the road.

Volunteers firefighters battle a blaze at Fernhill on Monday. Photo / Hastings Volunteer Fire Fighters
Volunteers firefighters battle a blaze at Fernhill on Monday. Photo / Hastings Volunteer Fire Fighters