The Central and Upper Waitaki zones of the Otago District will return to a restricted fire season, as of 8am on 5 December, until further notice.
The two zones spent a couple of weeks in a restricted season in September due to increased fire danger. A period of wet weather through spring meant they returned to an open season, but with the fire danger now increasing again, they will move back into a restricted season on Tuesday.
A restricted fire season means a permit is required to light a fire in open air. You can apply for one at www.checkitsalright.nz.
Declaring the restricted fire season, Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s Otago District Manager Phil Marsh says while the predicted El Niño weather pattern is still to eventuate, the fire danger in the zones is already increasing.
“The recent wet weather increased grass and vegetation growth which is expected to dry off very quickly in the dry to very dry conditions forecast by NIWA over the next 35 days. This will create more dangerous fire conditions,” he says.
“People are preparing for summer which often includes burning green waste or garden material from around their homes. And in the weeks before Christmas we see an influx of holiday makers moving into the area doing the same at their cribs and holiday homes.
“People should not view green grass on their property as a sign it’s safe to light a fire,” he says.
“People are often caught out with fire moving through what appears to be green grass that is in fact dry underneath.”
Phi Marsh says the requirement to have a permit during a restricted fire season means Fire and Emergency is able to more effectively manage unwanted fires.
“Our local team will be able to support permit holders to ensure they have the knowledge to light any fires safely.”
While controlled burns are still able to be carried out with a permit, the need to supervise any permitted burn is essential.
For fire safety tips, applying for a permit, and more information about the activities you can and can’t do in a restricted fire season, go to www.checkitsalright.nz.