Auckland-wide fire ban in place
A complete fire ban has been put in place for Auckland by Auckland Council which includes Great Barrier, Kawau, Waiheke and the other Hauraki Gulf Islands.
The ban, announced today, was necessary because of the heightened fire danger and predicted sunny weather, principal rural fire officer Bryan Cartelle said.
"The forecast for a hot, dry long weekend with increased winds means a complete fire ban is the safest option. Both locals and visitors to the region will need to do their part by taking extra precautions and ensuring the ban is followed by everyone," he said.
The ban covers all fires in the open air including rubbish fires, bonfires, backyard braziers, fireworks and cooking fires.
It will remain in place until the fire danger is no longer classed as "elevated", Cartelle said.
Urban areas are also included in the fire ban, which has the support of the New Zealand Fire Service.
Meanwhile, firefighters continued to battle a blaze on Great Barrier Island today supported by the navy.
Winds were forecast to strengthen later today which could further aggravate the fire which has burned more than 115 hectares near the settlement of Claris.
Forty-five fire fighters have been working to contain the fire which has been burning since Tuesday.
Offshore Navy Patrol Vessel HMNZS Otago arrived this morning to transfer almost five tonnes of firefighting equipment and relief supplies from the Devonport Naval Base to the island off the coast of Auckland.
The vessel, which had been at sea conducting training, was rapidly redeployed to help at the request of the Department of Conservation.
Fire retardant chemicals and other associated equipment as well as food and water arrived at the Whangaparapara Harbour this morning.
An Auckland Council spokesman said no Great Barrier Island properties were under threat but about 30 homes had been evacuated as a precaution.
Another fire, which began at the Hunua Gorge at 5.15am today, has been deemed suspicious.
It was contained before midday, though fire fighters remained at the scene for some time dampening down hotspots, a fire communications spokeswoman said.
Access to the sheer cliff face was limited and eight fire crews were dispatched to contain the fire before it spread into the Hunua Ranges.
The fire caused minor rock slides and threatened the stability of the rock face.
But an Auckland Transport spokesman said a geotechnical expert had been called in and the area had been declared safe.
Auckland Council spokesman Glyn Walters said the fire was about the size of half a football field.
He said people need to be extra cautious in the current climate if they are using equipment that generates heat or even discarding cigarettes.
''It is very dry out there and people need to be extra cautious. That's a message we are going to be putting out over the next couple of weeks because there is no sign of rain."