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Restricted Fire Season Declared In Southland

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Restricted Fire Season Declared In Southland

A restricted fire season for the whole of the southern district has been declared on Saturday because of the potential risk of fire.

Southern Rural Fire Authority Principal Rural Fire Officer Mike Grant said vegetation moisture levels had reduced to trigger points that meant significant fires were more likely to happen and would be harder to extinguish.

"Critically some of our Northern Southland zones are two months ahead of typical drying," Mr Grant said.

"Even though there has been a lot of rain, it has been mostly coastal and so the wind has eliminated the effect of any of that rain and hastened drying conditions in most areas."

The Central Otago District Council area, which includes the Naseby forest zone of the Southern authority, has gone to a total fire ban because of the high risk there.

A restricted fire season means a permit has to be gained to light an open fire.

Permits do not need to be gained for camp fires, barbecues, incinerators, offal holes and hedge trimmings, but these do have specific conditions, including never lighting them when it is windy and not being within 30m of a building, trees, hedges or material that could catch fire.

Those who light fires in the open are responsible for making sure the fires are safe and do not spread, Mr Grant said.

"Also be aware and considerate of smoke drift across roads and into neighbouring properties.

"Even if you light a fire with a permit, or in an incinerator or a barbecue, it's still your responsibility if it escapes and damages property or has to be put out by the fire service or rural fire crew," he said.

"If the fire has to be extinguished by the fire service or rural fire crew, you will be charged."

Fires should never be lit when conditions are windy, or strong winds are forecast.

The Southern Rural Fire Authority staff issue permits, but it can take up to five days to check the applications, particularly if a site inspection is required, so Mr Grant urges people to think ahead if they plan to burn off.

"With Christmas coming up, it is even more vital to plan ahead as no permits will be issued over the holiday period."

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