22 Nov 2011

New Caledonia fire ban after alarming loss of vegetation

2:32 pm on 22 November 2011

The authorities in New Caledonia have declared a fire ban, saying the situation has become alarming with the arrival of hot and dry weather.

They say more than 60 square kilometres of vegetation has gone up in flames since mid-September, with a sharp acceleration in recent days as 40 uncontrolled fires were started.

They say after a rainy winter season, there is plenty of vegetation prone to be burnt, especially along the west coast of the main island.

The fires have led to roads being closed because of the flames or thick smoke.

A representative of the World Wildlife Fund says fires are lit to clear fields, to fight pests and at the times because of land quarrels.