Large fire burns through forest north of Napier

A large fire continues to burn through a forest north of Napier, Hawke's Bay.

The fire spread throughout Monday afternoon, burning across 15 hectares of land near Tangoio Settlement Road. Firefighters have struggled to contain the blaze, with severe winds hampering their efforts. 

On Monday evening, ground crew were forced to withdraw from the forest area due to the dangerously strong winds. Following a review of Fire and Emergency's (FENZ) air operations, it was decided that air crews will withdraw from the blaze at darkness. 

The fire will be left to burn overnight, with ground crew and aircraft returning at daybreak. 

What you need to know:

  • Firefighters were called to State Highway 2, north of the turnoff to Eskdale in the Tangoio community, at 11:43am on Monday
  • No properties are under threat and the fire won't impact SH2 or nearby roading 
  • Two fixed-wing aircraft, five helicopters, 65 ground crew and almost a dozen fire trucks have been battling the blaze
  • As of 3:45pm, the fire has spread across 15 hectares near Tangoio Settlement Road. It is not yet contained
  • The blaze is burning through a commercial forest, believed to be owned by Forest Management New Zealand
  • Severe forecasted winds have been hindering firefighting efforts, with the ground crew being removed late on Monday afternoon. It is believed gusts may reach up to 120 km/h
  • A second blaze has broken out in Fernhill near SH50, further south in Hawke's Bay

These live updates have now finished.

7:47pm - The forest fire will be left to burn overnight due to dangerous winds, with firefighters returning at first light to continue battling the blaze. 

Fire and Emergency's aforementioned review of its air operations means aircraft will also withdraw at darkness and return at daybreak. 

The windy weather is expected to ease overnight after the severity of Monday's gusts forced ground crew to withdraw from the forest fire.

According to NZME, occupants of a nearby house have been evacuated as a precaution. Appliances had been protecting the home during the early evening and the property will be monitored overnight.

A second Hawke's Bay fire, which broke out near SH50 in Fernhill, is believed to be under control. It's believed a handful of other fires burned in the region on Monday.

5:20pm - A FENZ spokesperson told Newshub that as of 4:40pm, six helicopters and 65 crew were working on the blaze.

Structural protection work has been performed but the spokesperson couldn't confirm where.

Ground crew have since been removed due to strong winds hampering their firefighting efforts.

Air operations are also being reviewed, the spokesperson said.

A local cinematographer told Newshub that the fire has "gotten three-times the size in the last two hours". 

5:09pm - A MetService spokesperson told Newshub that strong south-westerly winds are currently gusting up to 70 km/h at Hawke's Bay Airport, located roughly 18 kilometres south of the fire.

She said the strong winds are likely to be hampering firefighting efforts to control the blaze.

4:57pm - Local Michelle Taiki snapped pictures of the billowing smoke earlier on Monday.

Large fire burns through forest north of Napier
Photo credit: Michelle Taiki / Supplied
Large fire burns through forest north of Napier
Photo credit: Michelle Taiki / Supplied

4:40pm - A Hastings local said four helicopters are "going back and forth" with buckets of water in an attempt to control the flames.

The local noted that the fire is bordering the property of Pan Pac Forest Products Ltd. 

4:30pm - In an earlier tweet, MetService says the strong easterly winds are forecast to ease after midnight. No significant rain is forecasted in the area.

4:12pm - A FENZ spokesperson said that air operations may be halted due to the severe wind.

Footage of the blaze has been shared to Twitter.

4:00pm - A second significant fire has broken out in Hawke's Bay.

Police are "strongly urging" motorists to avoid State Highway 50 near Fernhill due to the fire threatening two homes.

A FENZ spokesperson told Newshub multiple crews are battling the blaze near the Ngaruroro River.

Police said the fire is "large". They are assisting FENZ by diverting traffic away from the highway.

3:50pm - Local Bodean Robertson captured this photo of the smoke billowing from the forest off Tangoio Road. 

Smoke rising off Tangoio Road.
Smoke rising off Tangoio Road. Photo credit: Supplied / Mary Mayes

3:10pm - According to NIWA's Fire Weather service on Monday afternoon, Eskdale and the the rural Hastings District community of Tangoio - near the fire's location - are at a moderate risk of being affected by forestry fires. 

A map of forestry fire risks in Hawke's Bay on Monday.
A map of forestry fire risks in Hawke's Bay on Monday. Photo credit: NIWA / FENZ

According to NIWA, Napier is currently at a "high risk" of forestry fires due to Monday's weather conditions. 

3pm - A selection of photos taken by Hawke's Bay locals of the fire's billowing smoke.

Large fire burns through forest north of Napier
Photo credit: Supplied / Michelle Taiki
Large fire burns through forest north of Napier
Photo credit: Supplied / Shona Brewer
Large fire burns through forest north of Napier
Photo credit: Screengrabs / Laura Hadfield / Facebook