Cause of huge Northland fire that led to evacuations released

December 5, 2022
The Waiharara fire burning in December 2021.

The cause of a huge Northland scrub fire which burned for over a month and led to evacuations has been released today by Fire and Emergency NZ.

The Waiharara fire began on December 18, 2021 and burned until early February 2022.

According to Fire and Emergency, it was "accidentally" caused by a permitted land clearing burn on private property that went "out of control".

"A number of factors contributed to the spread of this fire including heavy dry fuels, high temperatures and strong gusty winds," Te Hiku Region manager Ron Devlin said.

"Fire and Emergency also investigated whether there were any grounds for prosecution, and we have determined that there is insufficient evidence to carry out any prosecution in relation to this fire."

Devlin detailed what was lost despite an, "intense firefighting effort".

"In total the fire consumed around 2800 hectares, more than half of which was conservation land. Residents had to evacuate twice but fortunately, despite such destruction to the land, no lives were lost," he said.

"Firefighters fought the fire for 50 days before it was safe to hand back to landowners.

"Fire and Emergency would like to acknowledge not only the loss of personal property but also the psychological stress this incident has had on the community. We recognise that full recovery from such incidents for communities can be complex and take years."

Devlin also added the fire has, "not yet been declared out".

"While there is no active flame or smoke at present, it could potentially be burning underground. We will continue to monitor the fire ground vigilantly over summer."