Fire restrictions are being put in place for the Mackenzie Basin as part of ongoing efforts to reduce the risk of wildfire over the summer.
A temporary fireworks ban covering the area will come into effect from 8am tomorrow, Friday 15 December, until 31 March 2024. A restricted fire season has also been declared for the area from 8am tomorrow until further notice, meaning anyone wanting to light an open air fire will need a permit. You can apply for a permit at www.checkitsalright.nz.
It is the third year that Fire and Emergency NZ has used Section 52 of the Fire and Emergency Act to prevent people letting off fireworks in the area. The decision to impose the ban follows a major wildfire at Pukaki Downs in September and previous big fires in the same area and at Lake Ōhau in spring 2020.
The District Manager for Mid-South Canterbury, Rob Hands, says that while the countryside was deceptively green, locals understood how quickly conditions could change given a few warm and windy days.
“We are putting these measures in place now so that we have a consistent approach all summer. People will notice signage about the fireworks ban being installed over the next few days and we will be putting up posters in campgrounds and shops around the district.”
Wildfire is an ever-present hazard in the Mackenzie District because of its dry and windy climate, the natural vegetation and its topography. Fire and Emergency is undertaking a wider project to help local communities understand their risk and take steps on their own properties to reduce their exposure to wildfire.
Wildfires can be started by natural causes such as lightning, or by human activities – both accidental and deliberate. “You don’t have to look far to see just how quickly a fire can spread and how devastating the consequences can be,” Rob Hands says. “Memories of Lake Ōhau are still fresh around here, and the Pukaki Downs fire in September brought it home again, but we’re also aiming to get the message through to all the people who holiday in the Mackenzie Basin.
“It only takes one spark to start a wildfire. That’s why we asking people to leave their fireworks at home if they’re visiting the Mackenzie Basin this summer.”
Wherever you are in the country, go to www.checkitsalright.nz or call 0800 658 628 to see whether any restrictions are in place before lighting up.