Three fire crews were called to fight a huge scrub fire in Te Puna, days after the issue of fire permits in the Western Bay was suspended.
The blaze broke out yesterday afternoon about a kilometre along the western side of Te Puna rail bridge. Tauranga Fire Station senior station officer Phil Price said the fire was about 150 sq m long and up to 100m wide in parts.
Because of its location the fire was difficult to get to and crews had to pump water from a tidal stream, while contending with the windy and boggy conditions.
A helicopter was put on standby and firefighters were at the scene for more than four hours.
The cause of the fire was yet to be determined but it was possible a spark from a passing train had ignited nearby scrub, Mr Price said.
Two freight trains heading to the Port of Tauranga were held up for about an hour.
Around the same time, Omokoroa Volunteer Fire Brigade was called to a 50m to 60m grass fire which took hold in Harbour View Rd about 2pm.
Fire chief Ian Blunt said the blaze started after the wind caught a spark from a gas-cutter.
Meanwhile, recent warm, dry weather in the Western Bay has seen the issue of fire permits suspended in an attempt to prevent more out-of-control scrub fires.
Western Bay Moana Rural Fire Authority principal rural fire officer Barry Low said the fire risk was high and measures needed to be taken to prevent fires from taking hold.
"Until we get some significant rain we won't be issuing any more permits."
Permits that were already issued and active would not be affected.
Mr Low said 25ml to 40ml of rain was needed over a couple of days to dampen down the area.
"As long as we keep getting these winds it will dry out really fast."
If the weather conditions continued, Mr Low said a total fire ban would be considered this week.
Federated Farmers is also warning of a dry period ahead.
Adverse events spokesperson Katie Milne recommended farmers have contingency plans in place in case the mild El Nino intensified.
"Some regions are already noticeably drier than usual, which is causing some concerns. It is important that farmers have contingency plans in place, such as de-stocking and getting in supplementary feeds," she said.
"It is important not to leave it too long to make decisions. If farmers have good plans ready, they can be proactive rather than reactive if a severe drought does eventuate."
There was no indication of severe drought yet but Federated Farmers was watching the situation closely, Ms Milne said.