Hot, windy and dry conditions forecast for much of inland Otago in the middle of the week will sharply increase the risk of fire and make it more challenging for firefighters to respond.
People in Central Otago, Queenstown Lakes and the Upper Waitaki are being urged to avoid any activities that generate sparks on Wednesday and Thursday.
A prohibited fire season has already been declared for all three zones, meaning outdoor fires are banned due to the extreme fire danger, Fire and Emergency’s Otago District Manager, Phil Marsh, said.
“We are expecting very hot, dry and windy conditions on Wednesday and into Thursday, based on the weather forecast, and that means that any fire that does start will spread quickly and be more difficult for our firefighters to put out.”
As a result, Fire and Emergency is asking contractors, farmers, tradies and everyone using machinery to avoid activities that generate sparks on Wednesday and Thursday. That includes using grinders, ride-on lawnmowers, and other tools or implements with blades that can strike against stones and cause a spark.
Anyone who lit an outdoor fire in the last three weeks should also check that it is completely out, as fires can easily reignite in strong winds.
“All the indications are that we are in for a long, dry summer, and the risk of wildfire is already high,” Phil Marsh said. Grass that seems green on top is already drying off underneath and the ground itself is dry in most places. “Anyone who has turned a spade in their own garden will know exactly how dry the soil is, even after a shower of rain. These are the conditions where a fire can start easily and be very hard to put out.”
Fire and Emergency monitors the fire danger constantly, and up-to-date advice about fire risk is always available at www.checkitsalright.nz