A stubborn wildfire in the South Hokianga last week has prompted a warning from Northland's Principal Rural Fire Officer, Myles Taylor, that the region is getting dry, and that note should be taken of wind conditions before striking a match.

On Saturday firefighters were still dampening down the remains of the blaze that started at about 1.30pm on Wednesday in bush and old pines near Koutu Loop Rd. Mr Taylor said the fire had covered about 5ha in a "nasty piece of bush," with old, unthinned pines and hazards such as dead branches caught up in trees.

The risk increased as flames made their way down into tree roots.

It had been too dangerous to send in ground crews, so firefighters cut a fire break and relied on a helicopter with a monsoon bucket every time the wind picked up and fanned the blaze back to life.


Three helicopters were deployed for the first two days of the operation, reducing to one on Friday, with a forestry crew and a digger joining the firefight.

A house near the edge of the fire was not threatened, but firefighters had kept a close eye on it.

The fire appeared to have been deliberately lit, Mr Taylor said, although that yet to be confirmed. The investigation was continuing.

Meanwhile, typically strong November winds were catching out people starting burn-offs without checking the conditions.

"People seem oblivious to the wind. So many controlled burns are getting out of control because people aren't paying attention," he added.

He was expecting some rain early this week, but not enough to reduce the fire danger. (Kaitaia received 2.2mm yesterday morning, skies clearing long before forecasters were predicting).

Restrictions would have to be imposed shortly, he said, noting that the most fire-prone parts of the Far North, including the Aupouri and Karikari peninsulas, and the area north of Kaitaia-Awaroa Rd, were subject to year-round restrictions.