The large scrub fire on Rickit St in Taupō has been nearly entirely put out, with just 20 per cent left to go, Fire and Emergency says.
Fire and Emergency began responding to a rapidly spreading scrub fire on Rickit St around 5pm, with police helping to evacuate residents.
At about 6pm the fire had covered an area of 500 metres by 500 metres, with eight fire trucks and one helicopter at the scene.
Shift manager Daniel Nicholson said the helicopter left at 9pm, and all road cordons have been lifted, with people permitted to return to their homes if they had left. He said 80 per cent of the fire had been put out, with some hotspots left still to manage.
He said a fire investigator will attend the site on Sunday morning to start the investigation into how the fire began.
Some fire crew will remain overnight to handle the hotspots, and further teams will arrive at first light on Sunday to keep assisting. It is not clear whether a helicopter will return on Sunday.
Nicholson said the blaze was contained at its largest, 500 by 500 metres, and so far no structural damage has been reported.
Police asked the public to avoid the area near the wastewater treatment plant and cemetery while the fire was brought under control.
Residents of a rest home were among those evacuated while the fire was managed, a police spokeswoman said.
Nearby resident Emma Cook said when the fire started around 5pm, the air was thick with smoke, but had cleared up significantly two hours later.
The hill was “completely black” with some hotspots still igniting, she said, but the helicopter had been able to douse the fires from above.
“A lot of the trees and shrubbery are all black, all burnt away. It’s pretty hectic.”
She said the weather had been extremely hot and dry in Taupō on Saturday, and quite windy.
“Because the wind is going towards the lake, all the smoke is going right into town. We’ve hardly had any rain, so I am not surprised it’s gone up so quickly.
“Down by the river it’s kind of a sun trap, so when it gets really hot here it dries everything out completely.”
Cook said firefighters had been “relentless” when working to get the fire under control.