Dry conditions to worsen in North Canterbury as fire provides early warning sign for summer

North Canterbury fire crews received an early morning call-out on Friday to a blaze near Amberley beach.

Deputy Rural Fire Officer Dale Wilhelm says it burnt approximately a hectare through a mixture of scrub fuels. 

Four fire crews and a helicopter with a monsoon bucket worked to bring the vegetation fire under control.

"We've just started to see an increase in the number of fires that we are having," Wilhelm says.

"And that's due to the dryness that we've got, although things are green the underlying conditions are still very dry around Canterbury and most of the East Coast of the South Island."

Conditions are only set to get worse, according to NIWA's seasonal outlook for summer.

"In the next several weeks we are expecting rounds of 30C plus temperatures in the east coasts of both islands from Gisbourne to Hawkes Bay down to the Wairarapa as well as across Canterbury and Otago," says NIWA Meteorologist Ben Noll.

Not just challenging conditions, but also concerning behaviour putting fire crews on high alert.

Canterbury Police are investigating after four suspicious fires broke out in Port Hills between midnight and 2am on Wednesday. A witness told them he saw a flare go up before one of the fires broke out.

Such behaviour has disappointed North Canterbury Principal Rural Fire officer Bruce Janes

"Our volunteers are ordinary people like me and you who work in the day and want to be with their families at night," he says.

"And at 2am in the morning they're running out the door to chase not one but several fires deliberately lit - that's just a big drain on their goodwill and obviously potentially damaging."