The start of fire restrictions across Northland has brought little relief so far to the region's stretched firefighters.
Restrictions on most outdoor fires came into force at 8am yesterday as a swarm of blazes continued throughout Northland, fuelled by high temperatures and strong winds.
At edition time yesterday firefighters from Ōkaihau and Kerikeri were racing to contain a scrub fire near Riverhead Guesthouse in Horeke. Two helicopters had been placed on standby but were not required.
Also yesterday volunteer firefighters had to contend with a tree accidentally felled on to powerlines at Tangowahine, a car crash at Ōmanaia in South Hokianga, and a car fire on Picadilly Rd south of Kaikohe.
In a sign of just how dry conditions are, a tractor implement hitting a stone about 11.55am yesterday was thought to have sparked a fire that spread about 100m down a dry drain bank at Te Kopuru, south of Dargaville.
Mopping up also continued yesterday at some of Monday's fires, the most serious of which started about 5.30pm at Ōmanaia.
Volunteer fire crews from Rawene and Kaikohe had to protect a house on State Highway 12 while two helicopters used monsoon buckets to stop the flames advancing up a hill.
The cause was still being investigated, acting Northland principal rural fire officer Wayne Martin said.
About 10.15pm, also on Monday, a fire at Matauri Bay tore through an area about half the size of a football field and is thought to have destroyed a dwelling. The Cavalli, Kaeo and Kerikeri brigades responded. That blaze is also still under investigation.
Martin said many recent blazes had escaped from rubbish fires or burn-offs, which was why restrictions requiring a permit for most outdoor fires had been imposed.
Fire permits were free and gave firefighters a chance to offer advice on how to stay safe and keep fires under control.
Other fire callouts on Monday included one about 8.30pm at Tangowahine, east of Dargaville, which turned out to be a farm burn-off. The fire was well contained but was expected to burn for days and had no permit. The property owners were due to meet fire bosses yesterday.
Earlier, about 1pm, the Kaiwaka, Mangawhai and Maungaturoto brigades spent four hours extinguishing a blaze in pine slash on Kaiwaka-Mangawhai Rd.
Martin said it may have started when an earlier burnoff was fanned back into life by high winds.
A forestry crew was back at the scene yesterday to continue dampening down.
About 2pm on Monday a blaze started by a rubbish fire at Cherrington Rd, Ōrauta, covered an area of about 30x30m before it was put out by Kawakawa Fire Brigade.
Last summer fire restrictions were imposed on December 1 with a total fire ban following on January 29.
Northland principal rural fire officer Myles Taylor is currently helping fight bushfires in Australia.
■ Go to www.checkitsalright.nz to check current restrictions or apply for a free permit. Some fires currently don't require a permit — such as hangi fires, gas and charcoal barbecues, braziers and chiminea — but check the website for conditions.