A sharp increase in fire risk has brought about a number of fire season changes across the Otago District as of 8am on Monday 18 December, until further notice.
The Central, Naseby, Upper Waitaki, Lakes, Glendhu Bluffs and Lake Ōhau zones will be moving from a restricted to a prohibited fire season. Fireworks will also be banned in these areas under Section 52 of the Fire and Emergency Act, until further notice.
A prohibited fire season means a total ban on open-air fires, and all previously granted fire permits are suspended.
The Strath Taieri zone will move to a restricted fire season.
A restricted fire season means anyone planning on lighting an open-air fire will need to apply for and obtain a permit. You can apply for one at www.checkitsalright.nz.
Declaring the fire season changes, Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s Otago District Manager Phil Marsh says westerly winds and a lack of widespread rain has dried out much of the vegetation across the District.
“In these conditions, with more wind forecast, a fire can get out of control very quickly,” he says.
“We have already seen several unwanted fires across Otago in the last week, with one likely to have been caused by fireworks.
“Wind can easily carry sparks and embers from fireworks large distances into dry vegetation,” Phil Marsh says.
People should visit www.checkitsalright.nz before lighting any type of fire anywhere over summer, to check the conditions and check what they are allowed to do in their area.