4 Dec 2019

Fires prompt New Caledonia crackdown

10:40 am on 4 December 2019

The governments of New Caledonia and of the Southern Province say they will systematically lodge a complaint with police for every fire being lit on public land.

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Photo: RNZ Pacific / Walter Zweifel

The two issued a joint statement, saying action needed to be taken against those who defy fire bans.

That comes after blazes across the country have destroyed about 300 square kilometres of vegetation since mid-September.

The governments say the damage amounts to an environmental catastrophe with the loss of biodiversity.

Their statement follows reports that at the weekend drunk people started a barbecue near Noumea in defiance of a fire ban, which resulted in 19 square kilometres of vegetation being burnt.

The affected area at Mont-Dore provides the sources of about a third of New Caledonia's drinking water.

Large fires are burning in several locations in the north of the main island while a fire on the Isle of Pines has been brought under control after days.

This year is set to become the most devastating season since 2001.

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