Firefighters have been monitoring overnight the remains of a large scrub fire in Porirua that has burned through at least 10 hectares.

The blaze at Whitireia Park, Titahi bay started late on Thursday night, sending smoke across surrounding Wellington suburbs.

Fire and Emergency (FENZ) says hotspots flared up on Friday afternoon and a helicopter with a monsoon bucket was called back to the scene.

A drone team has been monitoring hotspots throughout the night, and firefighters will be back at the park on Saturday, with high winds forecast for Porirua.

FENZ urged people not to light fires this weekend as risky conditions ramped up. It was particularly concerned about the South Island, which is beginning to dry out rapidly, with temperatures set to top 30C in some areas over the next few days.

Fire and emergency wildfire specialist Paul Shaw said people needed to ensure any fires they lit were put out properly.

“Please don’t light a fire this weekend. If you have had fires going, can you please actually check those fires and make sure they’re properly out? Any wind can pick up an ember that’s still sitting there, carry it into some dry grass and we’ve got another fire going.”

Shaw said the ground has started to dry out rapidly, and severe heat is an added layer of risk.

“Areas of extreme concern for us are the Mackenzie Country, central Otago, southern Marlborough… Canterbury is starting to really dry out as well.”

MetService meteorologist John Law said there would be plenty of sunshine nationwide, with temperatures reaching 30C in Christchurch and Dunedin, and the high 20s for the North Island.

“Heading towards Sunday, I think we could even find some of those temperatures in the North Island reaching highs of around 32C, 33C, in places like Hawke’s Bay.”

Shaw discouraged taking part in any activities that could produce sparks near fuels – including parking next to long grass, barbecues, grinding and welding.

He said crews were ready for any fires that eventuated this weekend, and an incident management team had been set up in mid-south Canterbury.

Law said a front would move northward up the country on Sunday, bringing wind and rain to some in the south.

Records ready to be broken

Climate scientists are predicting this year has a one-in-three chance of being even hotter than 2023, which was already the world’s hottest on record.

The record was made possible by climate change, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, alongside an El Nino climate pattern that emerged halfway through the year.

It is expected to persist until at least April, increasing the likelihood 2024 will be another record year.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that likelihood was strong, while there was a 99 percent chance 2024 would rank among the five warmest on record.

rnz.co.nz

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