Far North fire officials are urging people not to start any blazes during the prohibited fire season after a Kaikohe man decided to burn rubbish in a drum and flames burnt a hectare of scrub at Ahipara.
A total ban on outdoor fires throughout the Far North was implemented last month with almost no rain falling on the district since the start of the year and the district is in serious risk of going up in flames.
But despite extensive publicity about the situation and accompanying ban, people were still lighting fires.
Kaikohe fire brigade was called out on Sunday evening after a man in Rimu Place decided to light rubbish in a 40 gallon steel drum, deputy chief fire officer Wiremu Matene said.
Mr Matene said the fire didn't cause any problems as it was quickly put out, but officers had to explain to the man no fires could be lit.
Special permits can be granted for hangi fires, but the only other exceptions are gas barbecues.
The Northern Rural Fire Authority, which implemented the ban, said it would seek to recover firefighting costs from people who light fires, and bills totalling tens of thousands of dollars had already been sent out to 10 people.
Kaitaia fire officials are also investigating the cause of a blaze that burnt almost a hectare of scrub behind sand dunes in Ahipara.
Mr Matene said lighting a fire during the ban had the potential to cause major damage with the whole of Northland tinder dry.
The costs of fighting fires can also be huge, with a blaze on the Pouto Peninsula last month costing more than $80,000 in one day on helicopters alone.
Mr Matene said it was up to people to check that there was no total fire ban in place.
"We don't want people to be lighting these needless fires during the ban," he said. "The force is struggling for membership and we are all really tired (from fighting numerous fires in the past month) and fires can very quickly get out of control.
"People might see a bit of rain and think it's okay, but we are so damn dry it (rain) doesn't sink into the ground and a bit of wind can easily dry up that rain."
Far North principal fire officer Myles Taylor said that with no significant rain for weeks, the authority had no choice but to ban outdoor fires.