Members of the public who worked to pull victims out of a car involved in a fiery fatal crash in Northland have been praised by police for their heroic actions.

A woman died at the scene on State Highway 12 at Paparoa on Monday, while another woman in the car suffered serious injuries and was flown to Whangarei Hospital where she remained yesterday.

A woman who was the sole occupant of another vehicle received moderate injuries.

Officers are still piecing together what caused the two vehicles travelling in opposite directions to collide head-on about 2.15pm.

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Senior Sergeant John Fagan said people who arrived first at the scene had pulled victims from the car and tried to extinguish the flames.

"We wish to acknowledge the heroic actions of those people who were first on the scene attempting to put out the fire that engulfed the vehicle and also to extract the occupants of the vehicle," Fagan said.

"The car was quickly engulfed in flames but we acknowledge they did their best. We understand that this was terrible situation to deal with and anyone who wishes to speak to someone in confidence about this ordeal can contact Whangarei police."

Police have not named the woman who died.

Officers spoke to several people at the scene who will now be offered the services of Victim Support.

Mr Fagan said it was a tough incident to deal with and he and fellow officers extended his thanks to those who attended from Fire and Emergency.

A fire safety inspector has examined the car to try to determine the cause of the fire and a specialist police officer will check it for any mechanical faults that may have contributed to the crash.